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Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations 1997


Notes for Employers of Children of Compulsory School Age



These regulations, which have the force of law, came into effect on 31 st March 1997. They apply to all organisations and are intended to bring together good practice in risk assessment.

Risk Assessment

An employer must make a risk assessment specifically relating to the employment of children before employing them. If there are already children working in the organisation, a risk assessment must be made immediately.

The risk assessment must pay particular attention to:

  • The immaturity and inexperience of the child and consequential lack of awareness of risk
  • The health and safety training to be given to the young person
  • The extent of exposure to any chemical, biological or physical agents
  • The nature and layout of the work area
  • The types of equipment, methods of use and work activities to be undertaken

Reduction of Risks

An employer must ensure that children are not exposed to risks at work that arise because of their lack of maturity or experience and lack of awareness of dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.

A child should not be expected to do any of the following:

  • Work beyond their physical or psychological capabilities
  • Work involving risks to health from noise, vibration or extreme heat or cold
  • Work involving harmful exposure to any agents which can chronically affect health, including those with toxic effects

Having carried out the assessment, the results will suggest whether the employer should restrict the work of children within the workplace.

Even if these is no involvement with any of the work areas specified above, the employer may still feel that there is significant risk to children and, if this is so, they must not be allowed to undertake such work. Where the employer feels that the risk can be avoided or adequately controlled, and the child therefore employed, it is important that appropriate information, instruction and training is provided, both for the child and the rest of the workforce.

The principles of risk assessment are the same for children as they are for any other group of people, with additional considerations necessary to allow for their lack of experience and maturity.

Supervision arrangements should also be carefully considered, particularly as children may be easily led by a less conscientious member of staff. It is important that they receive thorough instruction and appropriate supervision.

Informing Parents of the Risks

When a child is employed, the employer must inform the parents of:

  • The findings of the risk assessment
  • Any protective or preventative measures that are being taken

The information does not have to be in writing, but it does have to be ‘comprehensive and relevant information’, and it must be given to the parents before the employment begins.

Training for Employed Children

Even children employed on a very part-time basis should be given training. In addition to training specifically about the job, employers should offer training on the following:

  • Safety policy - an explanation of the company’s policy and relevant sections
  • Children’s personal responsibilities - these should be discussed and emphasised
  • Safety documentation and literature - should be discussed and distributed
  • Key safety people - these should be introduced and their function explained
  • Safe working systems - the particular hazards associated with the work area and work processes should be explained, together with the need to follow safe working practices at all times
  • Manual handling - explain that manual handling should be avoided where possible
  • Housekeeping - explain why the work area should be kept tidy and clean
  • Prohibited areas - identify those areas which are out of bounds and why
  • Machinery - identify those items of machinery which must not be operated and why, and explain which pieces of machinery must only be used after training and under supervision, explain the need to report faults, and that repairs are only carried out by qualified and competent staff
  • Dangerous substances (including cleaning fluids) - explain what is in use within the workplace, storage arrangements and safety precautions; stress the need to read the label
  • Personal protective equipment - if provided, explain why and show how it is to be worn; explain the arrangements for changing, cleaning and maintenance
  • Safety equipment - if used explain what it is used for, where it is kept who is responsible for training staff
  • Personal hygiene - show the locations of toilet and washroom facilities
  • First aid - explain the arrangements for first aid and show the locations of these facilities
  • Accident reporting - stress the need to report all accidents even if no one was hurt and there is no damage; show the location of the accident book
  • Emergency procedures - explain the emergency procedure and if necessary, practise the procedure with the new starter
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol - explain the company’s policy on smoking, drugs and alcohol; show the location of any smoking and non smoking areas

Child Employment Regulations


The Children Protection at Work Regulations 1998


Children aged 13 Years

May only be employed in light work, in specified occupations, some of which are listed below. For a complete list refer to Employment Bye-laws.

  • Delivery of newspapers
  • Shop work - including shelf stacking
  • Domestic work in hotels
  • Café or restaurant
  • Office work

Children aged 13 and 14

May only be employed in light work, for up to 5 hours on any day on which they are not expected to attend school, up to a maximum of 25 hours each week. This does not include Sundays.

Children aged 15 and 16

May work for up to 8 hours on any day they are not expected to attend school, except Sundays, up to a maximum of 35 hours in any week.

School Days

On school days, children may work for up to 2 hours, outside of school hours. However, they can only be employed for up to 1 hour before school, on any day they are expected to attend.


A Child may work for up to 2 hours on a Sunday, between the hours 7am and 7pm.

Children and young people can only work in a limited number jobs and for a limited number of hours, until they reach the minimum school leaving date, which is the last Friday in June of the year in which they reach 16 years. Any employer who allows a child of school age to work, without first obtaining a work permit, is breaking the law and could be prosecuted. For information on how to obtain a permit, please see section below.

Prohibited Employment

No child of statutory school age may be employed:

  • To deliver milk
  • To deliver fuel oils
  • In a commercial kitchen
  • In a slaughterhouse or any part of a butchers shop
  • In any work higher than 3 metres above the ground or floor level
  • Top collect or sort refuse
  • To collect money or to sell or canvass door to door
  • In employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
  • In any work involving exposure to adult material, or situations unsuitable for children
  • In telephone sales
  • In a cinema, theatre, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given by children, for which a licence has been granted
  • On garage premises or selling petrol
  • In a bar or licensed premises during opening hours
  • In a licence betting office
  • At any machine prescribed as dangerous

Any child over the age of 13 years may work in their spare time, within the constraints as outlined overleaf, but they must first apply for a work permit. An application form must be completed by the employer, signed by the parent or guardian of the child and returned to Services for Children and Young People. When authorised, a work permit will be issued to the child, and notification will be sent to the employer. If the child does not receive a work permit, it might mean that no application has been made. This could mean that the child is not covered by the employer’s insurance in the event of an accident at work.

Applications forms for work permits are available from:

Child Employment

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