6. The law

Under health and safety law, as an employer, you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all your employees, of any age. As part of this, there are certain considerations that should be made for young people.

The law applying to the age of a young person or child

A young person is anyone under 18 and a child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age (MSLA). Pupils will reach the MSLA during the school year in which they turn 16.

Children below the MSLA must not be employed in industrial workplaces such as factories, construction sites, except on work experience.

Children under 13 are generally prohibited from any form of employment. Local authorities have powers to make bye-laws on the types of work, and hours of work, children aged between 13 and the MSLA can do.

Working hours and young workers

Young people and children have different employment rights from adult workers and are protected in relation to the hours they can work.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

You have specific duties for young people under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. You must ensure that any young people you employ are not exposed to risk because of:

  • lack of experience
  • being unaware of existing or potential risks
  • lack of maturity

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