Access and Inclusion - Child Employment

Cumbria County Council recommends employers should undertake the following good practice when employing young people aged 13 to 16 years (inclusive) during the Coronavirus Pandemic:

  • Write to parents to reassure them about the steps taken to keep employees safe and what to do if they or their child has any concerns or objections. Pass on web links to Government and Public Health England information pages.
  • If any parent or young person no longer wishes to continue with their work, then of course they should be released from their duties. Waiver normal leaver notice periods if people really want to give up.  
  • Ensure risk assessments are up to date, signed and dated by parent/guardian, along with having emergency contact details for the young person and their parent / carer.
  • Employers would need to consider the risk of Covid-19 for the young person working and if that increases the risk for other members of their household.
  • Businesses should ensure the young person is able to keep to the rules regarding social distancing when at work. This advice applies to both inside the business and in the external public areas. If this is not possible then the young person should be released from their role until social distancing rules are relaxed.
  • Young people should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds and more frequently than normal.
  • Provide tissues and hand sanitiser, gloves and other personal protection equipment in the shop/business for the young people to use if they need to.
  • If a young person presents at work with Covid-19 symptoms you must send them home, inform the parents straight away and take appropriate action.
  • Do not force anyone to do their work if they need to self-isolate. Find cover for them.
  • Inform the young person / parent / carer if other members of staff have developed symptoms of Covid-19 to see if any additional action should be taken.

In the case of newspaper deliveries:

  • Ensure the young workers do not come into contact with the householders in their course of their work, being able to drop newspapers on doorsteps and through letterboxes. They should not be knocking on doors, obtaining signatures, or collecting payment.
  • Ensure young people know what to do if they encounter someone with Covid-19 symptoms in the course of their work / delivery and whom they should report this information to. A young person should not go into the home.
  • Make arrangements for gloves and masks where required. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and therefore the risk of contracting Covid-19 through receipt of a printed paper is infinitely small.
  • Only delivering the round alone or with a member of the same household.
  • Consider options to deliver at a time that suits the worker if they feel more comfortable delivering when it is likely that there are fewer people about (though most deliver in the morning anyway) ensuring this still meets employment byelaws

Please note that young people still require a work permit during the Pandemic and any application should be accompanied by a risk assessment. Each request will be considered on an individual basis. The decision to grant or refuse the application will be based on the protective measures that are implemented by the employer.


Having a part-time or holiday job can be a good experience for children. It gives them experience of work, whilst earning a wage.

There are regulations and local bye-laws in place which stipulate the type of work and the hours of work children can do. These regulations are in place to protect the health and wellbeing of the child and to ensure that their education does not suffer.

These regulations are in place until the child reaches the minimum school leaving date. This is the last Friday in June of the child's 16th Birthday. A child does not stop being compulsory school age as soon as they turn 16 or when they receive their National Insurance Number. 

A child may only start part-time work when they are 13 years old, as long as they have a Child Employment work permit. See below for further guidance on how to apply for a work permit. 

Permitted Employment 

You can only employ children aged 13 in light work in certain occupations. Examples of these are below:

  • Agricultural or horticultural work
  • Delivering newspapers
  • Work in a shop
  • Work in a hairdressers
  • Office work
  • Work in a cafe or restaurant
  • Work in riding stables
  • Undertake domestic work in hotels or other establishments offering accommodation.              

From the age of 14, a child may carry out work from the above list and other light work provided the jobs are not on the list of prohibited employment shown below. 

Prohibited Employment

Children are not permitted to:

  • Work in a cinema, theatre, dance hall, disco or night club
  • Sell or deliver alcohol
  • Deliver fuel oils
  • Work in a commercial kitchen
  • Collect or sort refuse
  • Do any job which involves you being more than three metres off the ground
  • Do a job which may bring you into contact with harmful chemicals
  • Collect money or sell or canvass door to door
  • Be exposed to adult material which is considered unsuitable for children
  • Work in telephone sales
  • Work in a slaughterhouse, abattoir or be involved on the preparation of meat for sale
  • Work in a fairground or amusement arcade
  • Work in "personal care" in a residential or nursing home   

This is not a complete list. If you have any doubt about the kind of employment you are offering a child please seek our advice.  

Working Hours

Children cannot work:

  • During school hours
  • More than 12 hours in any school week
  • Before 7am or after 7pm
  • More than two hours on a school day. Either two hours after school or one hour before and one hour after school
  • More than two hours on a Sunday
  • More than five hours on Saturdays and holidays for 13 and 14 year olds or eight hours for 15 and 16 year olds
  • More than 25 hours per week in school holidays for 13 and 14 year olds or 35 hours for 15 and 16 year olds 

All children must have a one hour break after four hours and must have two consecutive weeks holiday from any employment during school holiday time. 

Child Employment Work Permit

If a child is of school age and has a part time job, they require a Child Employment Work Permit.

If the child is going to perform on stage, in television, film or commercials or to work in paid or professional sport or as a model, they will require a Child Performance Licence. Please visit our Child Performance webpage for further information.

A child is considered to be employed if they assist in any trade or occupation carried out for profit. It does not matter whether the child is paid or not. This includes any child working within a family business. In these circumstances, a work permit will need to be applied for.

A child must have a work permit and this must be applied for within 7 days of the child starting work. It is best practice to apply for the work permit before the child begins work to avoid any delay in the processing of the application.

To apply for a work permit, the employer and child's parents must complete the application form and return it along with the Young person's Risk Assessment, to the Child Employment and Entertainment Team. Due to the impact of Covid-19, any work permit applications returned in the post may result in a significantly delayed response from the team, therefore we kindly request you submit the application via email where possible.

Download Application Form (PDF 173KB)

Download Child Employment Leaflet (PDF 1.8MB)

Without a Child Employment Work Permit, the employer is breaking the law and can be prosecuted. There is also a risk that the employer will not be insured against accidents involving the child. Don't delay, apply today. 

Employer's Responsibilities

Employers must ensure that relevant insurance cover is in place.

The employer must undertake a comprehensive risk assessment of the work involved and discuss this with the child and parent/guardian.

The employer must ensure that suitable clothing and footwear are worn by the young person.

The employer ensures that the child is properly trained and understands what is expected of them.

The employer must not allow children to work outside the permitted hours or employ children in a prohibited occupation. 

Contact Us

Child Employment and Entertainment
West Cumbria House
Lillyhall Industrial Estate
Jubilee Road
CA14 4HB