What work you can and can't do


Under 14

If you are under 14, you are not allowed to work at all except in the following types of work:

  • To take part in sport, advertising, modelling, plays, films, television or other entertainment. The employer must apply for a licence from the Council.
  • To do odd jobs for a parent, relative or neighbour¬†¬†¬†
  • To do babysitting - In England you can babysit at any age, whether you are paid or not. You are allowed to look after a child of any age. However, if the child you are babysitting is thought to be at risk because it is not being looked after properly, the child's parents could be prosecuted, or action could be taken to put their child into care. If you are over the age of 16, you can be charged with a criminal offence if you deliberately assault, ill-treat or abandon a child in your care.

However, children of 13 or above may be able to do some other types of work, depending on the by-laws (local law) of the Council in the area.

For example, the by-laws may say that children of 13 and above in your area can do a paper-round, or that you can do light work which is not likely to be harmful to your health, safety or development.

Ask your Parent or Guardian to visit the St Helens Council website for more information about By-Laws, and what work you can and can't do, or call 01744 676789.

14 to 16 ?

No one under school leaving age can be employed in work other than light work. You are not allowed to do work which is likely to be harmful to your safety, health, development, or work that will affect your attendance at school or participation in work experience.

You are not allowed to work:

  • in a factory or in construction work
  • in transport
  • in a mine
  • on a registered merchant ship

By-laws (local laws) which give permission for children and young people to work in street trading have to say which days, which hours, and which places you can work from.

If someone wants to employ you before school leaving age they need to get a permit from the Council. The permit must be signed by both the employer and one of your parents or guardians.

16 to 18?

If you are over school leaving age and under 18, there are special restrictions on doing certain types of work.

These are:

  • work which you are not physically or mentally capable of doing
  • work which brings you into contact with chemical agents, toxic material or radiation
  • work which involves a health risk because of extreme cold, heat or vibration

You are only allowed to do the work above under the following circumstances:

  • where it is necessary for your training;
  • where an experienced person is supervising you; and;
  • where any risk is reduced to the lowest level that is reasonable.

These rules do not apply if you are doing short term or occasional work in a family business or in a private household, and for any work which is not considered to be harmful to you. If you are unsure, ask your parent, guardian or friend to check the job role against the above risk factors!

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