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Under 16 and Under 18 working hours and wages

  • Information on employment rights.
  • Cover England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Explains about how age, working hours and wages are linked
  • British Safety Council's young people campaign

Your school leaving age depends on where you live

England

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  1. stay in full-time education, eg at a college
  2. start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  3. work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training

Wales

You can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

Scotland

If you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave school after 31 May of that year.

If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Northern Ireland

If you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July) you can leave school after 30 June.

If you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August you can’t leave school until 30 June the following year.

Once someone reaches 18, adult employment rights and rules then apply.

Minimum ages you can work

Full-Time work

You can only start full-time work once you’ve reached the minimum school leaving age – you can then work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.

Part-time work

The youngest age you can work part-time is 13, except if you are involved in areas like:

  1. Television
  2. Theatre
  3. Modelling

If you work in these areas you will need a performance licence.

If you're still at school...

You are not allowed to work:

  • in places like a factory or industrial site
  • 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 most jobs in pubs and betting shops and those prohibited in local bylaws
  • 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 rules:

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

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

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

Wages

If you're under 16...

  • You’re not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

If you're aged 16 or above...

  • If you’re aged 16 to 17 you are entitled to at least £3.87 per hour.