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Young Workers: what are their rights?

With apprenticeship opportunities on the rise and younger individuals looking for employment, there are many more ‘Young Workers’ being employed by companies. The opportunities for ‘growing your own’ and having someone studying whilst learning are brilliant but this can bring some challenges as there are some protections for Young Workers that we must be mindful of when managing their work.

Young Worker applies to someone who is between the legal school leaving age and until they turn 18 years of age. The school leaving age will depend on where they live in the UK.

The laws around Young Workers and the hours they can work are very strict and are enforced and supported by ACAS, the HSE and The Working Time Regulations, so it is important to make sure you are not overlooking these. There is also little room for movement, meaning you can’t ask the employee or apprentice or their parents to agree to extend the times or hours they are working unless in very specific and extreme circumstances.

By law, Young Workers must not work more than:

  • 8 hours a day
  • 40 hours a week

They must also have, as a minimum:

  • a 30-minute break if their working day is longer than 4.5 hours
  • 12 hours rest in any 24-hour period in which they work (between working days for example)
  • 48 hours rest taken together each week (or if there is a good business reason why this is not possible at least 36 hours’ rest, with the remaining 12 hours taken as soon as possible afterwards)

Apart from in a select few industries (agriculture, hospitality and retail mostly) where there is slight leniency, Young Workers must not work during the ‘restricted period’. The restricted period is:

  • between 10pm and 6am if their contract does not say
  • between 11pm and 7am if their contract allows for them to work after 10pm

For Young Workers in the construction industry specifically, you also need to be mindful that where they do not have a fixed place of work and are expected to attend various sites, it is likely that their travel time will be considered ‘working hours’. This should be factored into their weekly restricted hours of work.

For employees who are below the school leaving age, there are much tighter restrictions on employment and these will differ depending on their local authority.

Please get in touch with our HR Support team if you have any queries.

By Rachel Storey Dip CIIHR Support & Business Development


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