Employment of children and young people

London Borough of Tower Hamlets' child employment team is responsible for safeguarding the welfare of children in the work place, as well as registering and monitoring all child employment within the borough. Employing school age children is regulated by the following law:

  • Children and Young Persons Act 1933 & 1963
  • Education Acts 1944 & 1996
  • Children Act 1989
  • Children (Protection at Work) Regulations 1998.
  • Tower Hamlets Council Byelaws.

There are strict regulations governing child employment and it is important that employers, parents and young people are aware of and adhere to the following guidance at all times.

The regulations apply to all children aged 13 and above and apply until they can legally leave school on the last Friday of June in Year 11 of their secondary education. They continue to apply after the young person’s sixteenth birthday if this falls before the school leaving date.

A child is employed if she/he assists in a trade or occupation which is carried out on a for profit basis whether or not the child receives pay or reward for that employment.


  • children must be at least 13 years old to work
  • 13-year-olds may only do certain types of light work – there are jobs they are not allowed to do (see more information on prohibited and permitted work)
  • they must have a work permit issued by the council in the area the child is working and carry it with them while at work.
  • children remain of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June of the school year in which their 16th birthday falls
  • having a National Insurance number does not mean that the young person can leave school or work full-time
  • if a child works in a family business, or receives no payment, they must still have a work permit
  • employers must apply for an employment permit within one week of the child starting employment – a work permit can be refused or cancelled if the employment is considered to be harmful to the health, safety, education and/or development of the child.

Child safety at work

The employer is responsible for the health and safety of the child. A risk assessment must be completed and the results shared with the parents. The following five steps will help you in assessing risk in the workplace:

  1. Look for hazards.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how.
  3. Evaluate the risks deciding whether the existing precautions are adequate or should be amended.
  4. Record the findings of the risk assessment, keep on file and give a copy to the parents.
  5. Review the assessment periodically and revise when necessary.

Particular attention should be paid to the young person’s lack of experience in the workplace.

Contact Environmental Health or the Heath & Safety Executive for more detailed information.

Further information

Pupil Services

Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ

Tel: 020 7364 5006

Email: child.employment@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Download the information on these web pages as a leaflet:

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