Employing a child to work in your Early Years setting

Employing a child to work in your Early Years setting

September 9, 2023

It feels like every June/July we are approached by Day Nurseries or Holiday Clubs enquiring about how to employ someone under the age of 16 to work.

As you might expect, employing a child isn’t as straight forward as employing a young worker, and employing a young worker isn’t as straightforward as employing an adult.

So let’s start by getting our definitions straight:

  1. A Child. Someone who has not reached school leaving age. The earliest date we leave school is the last Friday in June if we reach 16 years of age by the end of the summer holidays.
  2. A Young Worker – someone who is ‘post school leaving age’ and under 18 years of age.
  3. An Adult – anyone over 18 years of age.

Where it gets complicated is that in England and Wales you cannot technically end education totally until you are 18 years of age. Therefore whilst you may have ‘left school’ you will be at college, sixth form or in an apprenticeship/traineeship linked to a qualification.

Therefore when we talk about employing a child we are talking about having them work in our Early Years or Childcare setting after work, during holidays or at weekends.

Who gives permission?

If an employer wants to employ a child they must approach their local authority for permission. There is normally a form to complete.

What else will be needed or appropriate:

  1. Can they do the work I want them to do? Some roles are restricted, for example you may have been at the till of a 16 year old who had to ask incredibly loudly for permission to serve you alcohol. No, just me then!
  2. An Employing a Child Risk Assessment, what risks are there for the child, your children, other staff etc.
  3. What will you pay per hour? Children under 16 years are not entitled to National Minimum Wage.
  4. Will they be on payroll if under 16 years of age? A child under 16 years doesnt pay tax or NI.
  5. An induction plan tailored towards this being the child’s first experience of work. Show them right. Don’t assume and if in doubt train and document.
  6. Adjustments to the Job Role. The child may not be physically able to complete the same tasks as an adult, they may not be able to mentally cope with the responsibility either.
  7. Understanding amongst the team of the rules by which the employer must operate i.e length of shift, timing of breaks, etc and how this will impact those who work with the child and who may line manage them.
  8. The lack of vetting. You wouldn’t be able to secure a workplace reference if this is the first employer, they won’t be able to obtain an enhanced disclosure in England and Wales until they are 16 years of age.
  9. Will my insurer be OK with this?

What are the restrictions for children in work?

Children are not allowed to work:

  • without an employment permit issued by the education department of the local council, if this is required by local bylaws
  • in places like a factory or industrial site (unless as part of work experience)
  • during school hours
  • before 7am or after 7pm
  • for more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
  • for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
  • in any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education
  • without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year

Term Time

  • a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • a maximum of 5 hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds

During term time children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:

School holiday rules

During school holidays 13 to 14-year-olds are only allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During school holidays 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

Like all forms of employment, there are pro’s and con’s to each. Employing a child might be great for your nursery or club and great for the child.

If you need any assistance in managing any aspect of the employment relationship do call us on 01527 909436.

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