11. Young Workers

Employing Young Workers
Young people over school-leaving age and under 18 are known as young workers and have additional employment rights that you will need to take into consideration. 

Young people can leave school on the last Friday of June of the school year in which they are 16. However, English law dictates that a young person must remain in some form of education or training until they are 18 years old. This could be in the form of: 

• Full-time education (e.g. school/college);
• Work-based learning (e.g. apprenticeship);
• Working or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week whilst in part-time education or training. 

In addition to the below guidance, you should check with your Local Education Authority in regard to any additional by-laws or restrictions. 

It is also important to remember that young workers may have very limited work experience, if any, and therefore often require extra support in terms of managing expectations, explaining responsibilities, induction and training. 


Young workers will be entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage for their age. Please see the Employment Facts section for current rates. 

Working Time Regulations 

Young workers are usually entitled to: 

• A 30-minute rest break if they work more than 4.5 hours (which should be one continuous break if possible);
• A daily rest of 12 hours (i.e. the time between the end of their last shift and the start of their next shift);
• Two days off each week (which should be consecutive days). 

Young workers cannot work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. 

Young workers cannot usually work at night (with some exceptions). 

Compensatory Rest 

Young workers sometimes aren't entitled to daily rest or rest breaks at work if their work has to be done because of an exceptional event (e.g. an accident). This is only where: 

• there isn't a worker over 18 who can do the work
• the work is temporary and must be done immediately 

In such circumstances, young workers have the right to compensatory rest if they're not entitled to daily rest or rest breaks at work. This is the same length of time as the break (or part of it) that they've missed. It can be taken just after any rest they've missed, but it must be taken within the following 3 weeks. 


Young Workers are entitled to at least the statutory annual leave allowance of 5.6 weeks per annum. 

Health & Safety 

Employers have the same responsibility for the health and safety of young workers as they do for all workers, with some further considerations to take into account under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. 

An employer has a responsibility to ensure that young people employed by them are not exposed to risk due to: 

• lack of experience
• being unaware of existing or potential risks and/or
• lack of maturity 

An employer must consider: 

• the layout of the workplace 
• the physical, biological and chemical agents they will be exposed to
• how they will handle work equipment 
• how the work and processes are organised 
• the extent of health and safety training needed 
• risks from particular agents, processes and work 

It would be recommended that you carry out a risk assessment if you employ a young person to take into account these specific factors.