Children and Young Workers

What you must do - Law 4

Hours of work


  • Employment must not interfere with school attendance.
  • Minors cannot work more than 2 hours per day on a school day or a Sunday.
  • If they work more than 4 hours they must have a 1 hour break.
  • They must not work for more than one hour before school.
  • During the school holidays a child’s hours are restricted depending on their age:
    • 13 and 14 year olds can work up to 5 hours per day on weekdays and Saturdays and 2 hours on Sunday but their total hours cannot exceed a total of 25 hours per week;
    • 15 and 16 year olds can work up to eight hours per day, only 2 hours on a Sunday and no more than 35 hours in total per week.
  • Children must have a 2 week break from any work during the school holidays.
  • In Northern Ireland children under the age of 15 must not work for more than 2 hours on a Sunday, more than 5 hours on a school day or a Saturday or for more than a total of 27 hours in a week.
  • Those workers in Northern Ireland who are over 15 but below the minimum school leaving age cannot work for more than 2 hours on a Sunday; more than 7 hours on a school day or a Saturday; can work for not more than a total of 37 hours in any week (this could only apply in school holidays as the child would need to attend school as well).

Young workers

  • Young workers are not allowed to work more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. These hours cannot be averaged over a longer period.
  • Young workers are entitled to 12 consecutive hours of rest each day and a 30 minute break for every 4.5 hours worked.
  • Young workers cannot opt out of these restrictions, and therefore cannot work overtime.
  • Young workers must have 2 days off per week. These should normally be consecutive days off.
  • If there is a situation where a worker’s leave cannot reasonably be given to them, they should be given ‘compensatory leave’ within 3 weeks of their original leave entitlement being refused. The leave should also not be reduced to less than 36 hours.
  • Young people in Northern Ireland cannot work more than 2 hours on a Sunday, 7 hours on a school day or a Saturday, or 37 hours in a week.

Night work/overtime


  • Minors are not permitted to work overtime or to work nights (between 7pm and 7am).

Young workers

  • Young workers must not work more than 40 hours per week, 8 hours per day. Due to these limits, they cannot work overtime.
  • Young workers are not generally permitted to work at night. If this is required, the employer must undertake a health and ‘capability’ assessment to determine the effect that this work will have on the worker, and their individual capability to cope with any risks.

Use the search engine to locate more information on risk assessment within the section Working conditions are safe and hygienic.

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