However, a child’s capabilities are generally less developed than those of experienced and mature employees and they can therefore be more vulnerable when exposed to certain risks, due to their physical and psychological immaturity and their lack of awareness of potential hazards or the risks they present.
A child is considered employed:
- where they help in a business that aims to make profit, whether or not they receive pay or a reward;
- where they help in their parents shop without receiving payment; and
- where the aim is to make a surplus (e.g. as unpaid work in a charity shop).
Employers must comply with duties set out in a wide range of legislation, in addition to bylaws made by local authorities, which may follow the model bylaws published by the Department of Health or may further prohibit the kinds of work a child may do, or otherwise depart from the model bylaws to suit local circumstances. There are some differences in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, although the law is similar to that in England. There are limitations on the work they can do and the hours they may work. Close attention to their health and safety and welfare is essential.
The guidance provided within this page deals primarily with the health and safety at work of a child under the minimum school leaving age (MSLA), including students involved in work experience. Our risk topic page on employing young people discusses the issues associated with under-18s that are above the MSLA.