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Luton Borough Council

Children at work


The law specifically protects children in work. There are restrictions on the age children can work, what they can do and there are legal requirements which must be in place when a child is working. A child can only work part time until they have legally left school.

Employment also must not affect a child’s well-being or their education. Children who are employed must have a work permit from their local authority and children who perform may need a licence also from their local authority.

Child employment

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Child employment can start at 13 years old to school leaving age (the last Friday in June of year 11). No child below 13 can be employed to work and there are very limited types of work that a 13 year old can do.

When a child of compulsory school age is employed they need a work permit. An employer who employs a compulsory school age child without an employment (work) permit is in contravention of the child employment regulations and action may be taken against them by the local education authority in whose area the employment takes place. This is applicable to all employers by all local authorities.

13 and 14 year olds

Term time - maximum 12 hours per week

  • Monday to Friday (maximum two hours):
    one hour before school (after 7am) and one hour after school (before 7pm) or two hours after school (before 7pm)
  • Saturday (maximum five hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Sunday (maximum two hours):
    between 7am to 7pm

School holiday - maximum 25 hours per week

  • Monday to Friday (maximum five hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Saturday (maximum five hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Sunday (maximum two hours):
    between 7am to 7pm

15 and 16 year olds

Term time - maximum 12 hours per week

  • Monday to Friday (maximum two hours):
    one hour before school (after 7am) and one hour after school (before 7pm) or two hours after school (before 7pm)
  • Saturday (maximum eight hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Sunday (maximum two hours):
    between 7am to 7pm

School holiday - maximum 35 hours per week

  • Monday to Friday (maximum eight hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Saturday (maximum eight hours):
    between 7am to 7pm
  • Sunday (maximum two hours):
    between 7am to 7pm

Children must only do ‘light’ work such as:

  • newspaper delivery
  • shop work
  • hairdressing salons
  • office work
  • waitressing

Children must not work:

  • in hazardous places like factories or industrial sites
  • at places that will be harmful to their health, well-being or education
  • The law states that all school age children who work require a permit to allow them to do so. If a child is working without a permit the employer is breaking the law, the child may not covered by employers liability insurance and a parent allowing their child to work illegally could be liable for prosecution.

    An employer must apply for a work permit within a week of employing a child. You can apply for a work permit via education welfare or you can find the form under the 'Downloads' section below.

    You will need to provide the following:

    • employer’s name and address
    • name and address and date of birth of the child
    • hours and days on which the child is to be employed
    • occupation in which the child is to be employed, details of the task involved and the place of employment
    • statement, by a parent of the child, that the child is fit to work and that the parent agrees to the employment
    • details of the school at which the child is a registered pupil
    • statement to the effect that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out by the employer (this must be before the child started work)

    Child performance

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    A performance licence is needed for:

    • any performance in connection with which a charge is made (whether for admission or otherwise)
    • any performance in licenced premises within the meaning of the Licensing Act 1964 or in premises in respect of which a club is registered under the Licensing Act (1964)
    • any broadcasting performance
    • any performance not falling within paragraph (c) above but included in a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990)
    • any performance recorded (by whatever means) with a view to its use in a broadcast or such service or in a film intended for public exhibition
    • any broadcast performance to include internet streaming (for example a live stage performance recorded for a cinema screening, a feature film, a video or sound recording of a performance on a website)
    • when children take part in sport or modelling for which payment is made (to the child or to someone else in respect of the child taking part) other than expenses
    • once a child has performed on four days in a six month period (in any performance, regardless of whether a licence was in place on any of those days or the child was taking part in a performance arranged under a body of persons approval) then a licence is required for any further performances
    • if a child is to be absent from school a licence will be required

    The person in charge of running the event must apply to the child’s local council for a child performance licence.

    Contact the Education Welfare Service for more information on 01582 548026 or email them at [email protected].

    Fill in the Standard child performance and activities licence application form.

    The regulations states the licensing authority may refuse to grant a licence if the application is not received at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance or activity takes place. However, we appreciate that this may not always be possible but we request that as much notice is given as possible as we would not want any child to miss out on the right opportunities.


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    A person wishing to be approved as a chaperone should apply to the local authority in which they reside.

    • an application form is completed
    • the application is supported by two verifiable references from people who are not known solely to the applicant through the organisation for which they wish to become a chaperone
    • the licensing authority carries out an enhanced DBS check of all individuals applying to be approved as a chaperone and also checks within our own social care databases
    • the applicant will be interviewed by the local authority as a means to assess their suitability and competency for the role but also so that the local authority may explain the expectations of being a local authority approved chaperone
    • the applicant will need to have completed child protection training

    Fill in chaperone application form.

    A child performing, rehearsing for a performance during the performance period, taking part in an activity, or staying in accommodation in order to take part in a performance or an activity under a licence must be supervised at all times.

    This includes children taking part in a performance or activity, or whilst at accommodation under supervision by a chaperone, unless they are under the direct supervision of either their parent or a teacher from their school or their home tutor.

    Chaperones must be approved by the local authority that has granted the relevant licence to the child as part of the application process as being suitable to exercise care and control of the child in question.

    A licensing authority must approve a person to be a chaperone to:

    • have care and control of the child
    • safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of the child whilst the child is taking part in an activity, performance or rehearsal or whilst the child is living elsewhere than the place the child would otherwise live during the period to which the licence applies

    Registered chaperones are of great benefit to production companies, helping them to ensure they do not inadvertently contravene the regulations. Experience has shown that parents can be ‘star struck’ and fail to adequately supervise their child as they are unaware of the requirements of the regulations.

    A chaperones first priority is always to the child and they are the key person whom the child/young person looks to for:

    • guidance
    • protection
    • support
    • clarification

    One of a chaperones greatest strengths is the ability to negotiate with the production company on site and to be able to say ‘no’ when what is requested is contrary or detrimental to the child’s health/well-being/education.

    The maximum number of children a chaperone is allowed to have in their care at any one time is 12, however in many circumstances this is too high a ratio. Therefore, the issuing local authority may insist on a smaller ratio of children per chaperone or that two chaperones are required in order to split the number of male/female children and/or age groups.

    A child must not perform if a licence has not been granted unless they are exempt from needing a licence. The chaperone ensures that the conditions attached to the licence are adhered to.

    Chaperones must:

    • check the child is comfortable – you are the person to whom the child looks to guidance , protection, clarification and advice
    • stand up for the child above production pressures – one of a chaperone's greatest strengths is their ability to negotiate with the production company 'on site' and be able to say no when what is being requested of the child is contrary or detrimental to the child's health, well-being and/or education.
    • be the child's champion
    • report any concerns and know wo to report them to and know what to do in each case – chaperones should keep a note of important contacts eg the child's licensing authority, the local authority in whose area the child is performing, the child's agent and the child's parent/legal guardian
    • always ask to see a copy of the licence – this contains the restrictions that you must ensure are followed
    • exercise discretion (only when regulation allows) where that is in the best interests of the child
    • be alert to all possible risks to the child
    • challenge people, behaviours, what is being said etc that may be inappropriate for the individual child

    Chaperones must not:

    • let the child perform if they are unwell
    • leave the child alone with another adult (unless it's their parent or teacher)
    • ignore or down play questionable behaviour from adults or other children
    • allow the child to be pushed into things that they don’t want to do
    • take photos of the child
    • seek autographs from performers or become star struck
    • use inappropriate language or smoke whilst on duty
    • consume alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol whilst on duty
    • wear inappropriate clothing


    Contact info
    Education Welfare Service

    Tel: 01582 548174

    [email protected]


    © 2022 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ