Labour Research (April 2016)

Law Queries

Young workers and time off

Q. Do young workers, aged around 17, have special rights to time off and rest breaks?

A. Yes they do. These rights are set out in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). A “young worker” is defined in the WTR as someone who has reached age 15, but not 18, and is over school leaving age (which varies according to where the young worker lives). 

The additional rights are for workers, a wider group than just employees, and will include casual workers and some self- employed workers.

Young workers are entitled to a rest period of 12 consecutive hours in every 24-hour period (Regulation 10), a rest period of no less than 48 hours in each seven-day period (Regulation 11) and a rest break of at least 30 minutes away from the workstation once having worked for 4.5 hours (Regulation 12). 

Young workers have other additional rights relating to hours of work. For example, young workers should not work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. There are also “restricted periods” at night during which they should not work.

We refer you to guidance from the Acas employment advisory service and the TUC, including protection for younger children in work.

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