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Child employment and work permits

Answers to some general questions about child employment and acquiring child work permits.

If you are an employer and wish to employ a child aged between 13 to 16 years of age, you will need to apply for a Child Work Permit. The role of the local council is to ensure that the employment remains within the confines of the law, and thus safe for the child. You must complete a work permit application form for each child you wish to employ and send it to us within a minimum of 14 working days before the employment commences.

Children do not need a work permit for work experience arranged by the school.

Where do I apply for a child work permit?

Employers need to ensure that they apply to the correct council for a work permit. Dorset County Council (DCC), Bournemouth Borough and the Borough of Poole are unitary councils and each have their own processes. If you are not part of DCC, please contact your council:

If you are unsure which council you should contact, find out by selecting your location on our map (opens in a new window).

How do I apply for a child work permit?

The employer is responsible for obtaining the work permit, which can be applied for by submitting an online request form.

For more information about work permits and to apply see our child work permit page.

Find out more and apply

How many hours can a child work?

Child work permits are split into two age brackets. These age brackets dictate the permitted hours in which any child can work:

  • 13-14 year olds
  • 15-16 year olds

See the table for the permitted working times for both age brackets.

During school term time:

During school term timeChildren aged 13 and 14 yearsChildren aged 15 and 16 years

Daily maximum (Monday to Friday)

2 hours (of which no more than 1 hour may be prior to the start of school hours)2 hours (of which no more than 1 hour may be prior to the start of school hours)
Daily maximum (Saturday)5 hours8 hours
Daily maximum (Sunday)2 hours2 hours
Weekly maximum12 hours12 hours
Earliest start time7am7am
Latest finish time7pm7pm
Is employment during school hours permitted?No



During school holidays:

During school holidays

Children aged 13 and 14 years

Children aged 15 and 16 years

Daily maximum (Monday to Saturday)5 hours8 hours

Daily maximum (Sunday)

2 hours2 hours
Weekly maximum25 hours35 hours
Earliest start time7am7am
Latest finish time7pm


How old must a child be to work?

A child must be 13 years of age or over to undertake employment; it is illegal to employ any child under the age of 13.

What type of work can children do?

Children may undertake 'light work'. This refers to work that is not likely to be harmful to the health, safety or development of a child or to their attendance at school.

There are certain jobs that cannot be undertaken by a child under the age of 16. Examples of prohibited employment types include:

  • to sell alcohol, except in a sealed container
  • in a commercial kitchen (this includes washing up, unless the washing up area is separate to the kitchen)
  • to collect or sort rubbish
  • employment where harmful chemical, biological or physical agents are used
  • in the personal care of residents of any residential care home or nursing home unless under the supervision of a responsible adult

Please see the Child Employment - Legislation (PDF, 85kb) (opens in a new window) for further information on prohibited employment and working hours.

Can a child work for more than one employer?

Yes, a child can work for more than one employer but they must have a separate work permit issued by the local authority for each employment they undertake. The limits on working times will apply to the total hours of all employments combined and must not exceed the legal permitted hours of employment.

Is there a minimum wage for children?

No, the minimum wage legislation only applies once a person has completed compulsory education, as such, it does not apply to children.

How long is a work permit valid for?

The permit is valid whilst the child is employed or until they reach the last Friday in June of the school year in which they are sixteen and leaving year 11. It is the responsibility of the employer to notify the Business Support Team of any changes to the child's working times or conditions. On receipt of any changes an updated work permit will be issued.

How long does it take to be issued a permit?

We aim to process child work permit applications within 21 working days on receipt of the form. Please note, that it can sometimes take longer if we require further information from the employer, parent or school. In some cases we may obtain information from other services within the council or other local councils who may have relevant information.

Do children require a permit for voluntary employment?

Yes, if the aim of the organisation is to make a profit, such as a charity shop, then the child will be required to have a work permit.

  • Applying for a child work permit

    Guidance on how to apply for a work permit using our online application form, and information on what is needed to submit an application.

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