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Your Rights At Work

How old do you have to be to get a job?

If you’re under 13, you’re only able to get a job in special circumstances with permission from Haringey Council. Once you reach 13, you can only do light work. This means that you cannot do any job that can affect your health and safety or may interfere with your education. Things you can do include babysitting and taking on a paper round.

These restrictions last until you become 16 and have left school, when you become classed as a young worker, meaning that you have more choice in the jobs you can do. If you are 18 or over, you get the same work rights as adults.

Working hours

There are rules for what times of the day you can work and for how long. These are different depending on your age.

14 year olds
There are a lot of rules that control working hours of young people under 14, but the basic ones are:

  • during term time, you can only work for two hours on weekdays and Sundays and for five hours on Saturdays
  • during a school holiday, you can work for up to five hours on a week day or a Saturday and no more than two hours on a Sunday
  • you cannot work before 7 am or after 7 pm

15 and 16 year olds
If you're 15 or 16 and are working while you're still at school, your rights are almost identical to those of 14 year olds. However, you are allowed to work for up to eight hours on Saturdays or during the school holidays.

16 and 17 year olds
If you're no longer at school and you're 16 or 17, the law refers to you as a young worker. Because you will no longer be at school, there are fewer restrictions on when you can work and for how long, but there are still some rules.

You'll only be able to work for eight hours every day, or a total of 40 hours over the course of a week. You cannot usually work an overnight shift either, but there are some exceptional circumstances where you can.

Because you've reached school leaving age, you may find that employers may be more willing to offer you part-time or full-time employment.

You're also not limited to just 'light work', so you'll be allowed to work in places like a busy shop, restaurant kitchen or as a waiter or waitress.

The minimum wage

The rate of minimum wage will then depend on your exact age.

If you're doing an Apprenticeship, you won't qualify for the National Minimum Wage until you're 18 and have completed the first twelve months of your work-based training.

Time off and holidays

If you're 16 or over, have left school and are working full time, you have the right to a minimum of four weeks’ annual holiday, although some employers may offer more.

If your company offers little or no training, you can also get time off to work and study if you decide to take any further education courses.

Health and safety at work

All employers have a responsibility to make sure that their employees’ health and safety are protected at work. This means that you should expect thorough training that shows you any hazards that you may encounter during your job and the correct ways to do your job safely.

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