Child employment

Employers can be prosecuted from employing children and young people illegally without an employment licence, under age, in prohibited occupations, or working too many hours. Conviction carries a fine of up to £1,000. Children may have accidents because of their immaturity and inexperience or lack of training or supervision.

Our responsibility is to ensure that children from the age of 13 (while of compulsory school age) may undertake light work providing it is not detrimental to their health, development or education.

A young person is 'employed' when they assist with any business which is carried out for profit, whether paid or not. This also applies to children assisting their parents or relatives in a family business.

To ensure children are not exploited, we require employers to have a licence (for the protection of both the employer and the child).

It is the employer’s responsibility to obtain the employment licence from us regardless of where the child lives.

Applying for an employment licence

Employers should complete a separate application for each child they employ. This should be done within seven days of the young person commencing work for them.

An employers business insurance may be invalidated if a child does not have an employment licence and then has an accident. Employers should always inform their insurers if/when they employ children. Under health and safety legislation, an employer must carry out a risk assessment before employing a young person. You can get information on risk assessments from your trade association or by contacting business compliance.

Along with the application form, you must include proof of the child’s age i.e. their birth certificate and a recent head shot photograph.

The employer must fill in what type of work the young person will be doing, the hours they will work and also sign to state that they have carried out a risk assessment specific to the work carried out.

The parents will need to fill in the name, date of birth, address and school of the young person. The parent must sign the form confirming that their child is medically fit to undertake the work and that they have been advised about the risk assessment which the employer has carried out.

How do I submit my form and supporting documents?

  • Email
  • Alternatively you can post them to: Child Licensing (Attendance Service), Education - Children and Families, Wigan Council, PO Box 100, Wigan, WN1 3DS.

Who needs an employment licence?

All young people from the age of 13 who are employed part-time, out of school hours must have an employment licence until they officially leave school.

The official school leaving date is the last Friday in June of the school year that the child reaches the age of 16 (e.g. a child turning 16 in October would still need an employment licence until the last Friday in June of the following year).

The type of work young people are and are not allowed to do whilst still of school age and the hours they are licensed to work are detailed below.

Children under the age of 13 may undertake work in the entertainment industry (theatre, TV, modelling) but the employer is required to get a child entertainment licence.

Why is an employment licence needed?

Registration ensures that any prospective employment is legal and safe for children. An employer signs the application form to state that they have carried out a risk assessment of the work which the young person is to undertake.

The employment licence is necessary to support employer’s liability insurance which will cover the child whilst at work in case of accident. An employer could be prosecuted for employing a young person without an employment licence.

How long does the licence last?

The employment licence lasts for as long as the young person has the job until they leave school. A young person who changes job or changes hours of working will need to have a new employment licence.

What is light work?

Light work means work which is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children. Light work should not be harmful to a child's attendance at school or their participation in work experience.

How old must a young person be to get a part-time job?

Young people who are 13 years old can only be employed in light work in one or more of the following specified categories:

  • Agricultural or horticultural work
  • Delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed materials 
  • Shop work, including shelf stacking
  • Hairdressing salons
  • Office work
  • In a cafe or restaurant
  • In riding stables
  • Domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation

Young people aged 14, up until compulsory school leaving age, may be employed in other light work but not in any employment prohibited by the Wigan Byelaws.

What type of work CANNOT be done by young people?

No young person of compulsory school age may be employed in Wigan in any of the following:

  • In cinemas, theatres, night clubs etc.
  • To sell or deliver alcohol, except in sealed containers
  • To deliver milk or fuel oils
  • In a commercial kitchen
  • To collect or sort refuse
  • In any work which is more than three metres above ground level
  • In work involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
  • To collect money or to sell or canvas door to door
  • In work involving exposure to adult material
  • In telephone sales
  • In any butcher’s shop, or slaughterhouse where meat is prepared for sale
  • As an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade
  • In any residential care home or nursing home

Full details of prohibited employment is available in Wigan Byelaws with Respect to Child Employment (1999), contact us if you require a copy.

What hours can a young person work?

Hours of work
  13 and 14 year olds15 and 16 year olds
School days Not more than 2 hours in one day during the following periods:
Morning: 7am to the start of school
Evening: Close of school to 7pm
Not more than 2 hours in one day during the following periods:
Morning: 7am to the start of school
Evening: Close of school to 7pm
Saturdays Up to 5 hours between 7am and 7pm Up to 8 hours between 7am and 7pm 
Sundays Up to 2 hours between 7am and 11am Up to 2 hours between 7am and 11am
Term time Up to a maximum of 12 hours a week (including weekends) Up to a maximum of 12 hours a week (including weekends) 
School holidays Up to a maximum of 25 hours per week (including weekends)
5 hours a day between 7am and 7pm on any day except Sunday.  On Sundays 2 hours between 7am and 7pm
Up to a maximum of 35 hours per week (including weekends).
8 hours a day between 7am and 7pm on any day except Sunday.  On Sundays 2 hours between 7am and 7pm

Should young people get a lunch break or holidays?

All young people working for more than 4 hours in one day should get a one hour break.

All young people should have at least 2 weeks per year when they are not working. Though they are not entitled to paid holidays.


© Wigan Council