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Hiring School Children and Interns: Maximising Summer Success

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Are you a business owner experiencing a surge in workload as the summer season approaches? Do you find yourself considering the idea of bringing in fresh talent to inject new energy into your team? Perhaps you are excited about the possibility of mentoring a young professional while gaining some much-needed support for your growing projects.

You might be aware that hiring an intern involves more than just filling a position and you want to understand the legal landscape, ensuring compliance, before you embark on a journey of creating a valuable experience for both the intern and your business.

You might also be considering hiring young schoolchildren or you may be considering hiring an intern for the summer.

Before you start handing out uniforms, it’s essential to understand the legal requirements and best practices for employing schoolchildren and interns. From working hours to permits and health and safety considerations, there is a lot to navigate.

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to ensure a smooth and compliant hiring process.

Let’s start with employing schoolchildren

Employing Schoolchildren

Younger workers can bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to your business. Whilst it may seem obvious, but you may be surprised to learn there a number of restrictions.

It is important to note that since we are discussing seasonal workers, this article only covers school holidays and different rules will apply for young workers working during school term time.

Age Restriction for young workers

Children can start working part-time at the age of 13, except for children involved in areas such as television, theatre, and modelling, where younger children may work under specific conditions.

Young people can work full-time once they reach the minimum school leaving age, which is the last Friday in June of the school year in which they turn 16.

Working hours for young people

There are also different rules that apply to school term and school holidays.

During school holidays, the working time limits are higher, but are assessed on their age.

For 13 to 14-year-olds, you can employ them for up to 25 hours per week with a maximum 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays, 2 hours on Sundays.

For those young workers 15 to 16-year-olds you can employ them for up to 35 hours per week with a maximum 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays, 2 hours on Sundays.

Rest Breaks for young persons

You would be forgiven for thinking that young workers get the same rest breaks as adult worker. Young workers are entitled to longer rest breaks of a 30-minute break if their working period exceeds 4.5 hours.

They must have a minimum of 12 hours’ rest between each working day and are entitled to two consecutive days off each week, which should ideally be Saturday and Sunday.

Permitted work for working children

Again, you may be surprised to learn there are restrictions of the type of work they can carry out.

Children are only allowed to perform light work that is not harmful to their health, safety, or development. This includes jobs such as light office work; shop work; hairdressing; working in hospitality such as a café or restaurant (but not in the kitchen) and even agricultural work (under certain conditions).

Children are not allowed to work in environments that could be hazardous, such as industrial sites, commercial kitchens, or any work involving heavy lifting or exposure to harmful substances.

Typically, schoolchildren aged 13 and above can be employed for light work. Light work may include roles like shop assistants, office helpers, and leaflet distributors.

Do remember that young children cannot be employed in work that might be harmful to their health, well-being, or education. This includes jobs in industrial sites, pubs, and gambling environments.

Paying children and young people

Children under 16 are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage and do not pay National Insurance.

Once someone reaches 16, young workers aged 16 to 17 are entitled to at least £6.40 per hour.

Hiring Interns

Hiring interns can also be beneficial for your business. Not only do they bring in new ideas and energy, but they can also gain valuable real-world experience. Interns often come from universities and colleges looking for experience in their fields of study. 

Katie Roberts was a university student studying marketing who joined our team at HR:4UK for a summer internship in 2021.

Despite limited practical experience, Katie brought fresh perspectives and a strong work ethic to the team.  Through our internship programme, Katie was able to learn and contribute significantly, working on several key projects that directly impacted our marketing strategies. By the end of the internship, we offered Katie a full-time role, becoming a valuable member of our team before moving on to bigger and better opportunities.

So what is an intern?

Internship opportunities are often sought after by recent graduates or students.

An internship is a short-term work placement aimed at providing the intern with practical training in their chosen field. Interns gain valuable work experience, and employers benefit from new skills and potential future employees. While there are no specific laws governing interns, their legal rights depend on their status as either workers or employees.

Compensation for an intern

While internships can be unpaid if they are part of a formal educational programme, offering some form of compensation, even just covering travel expenses, can make the position more attractive and fair.

If the internship is paid, they are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) if they qualify as workers. This is determined by their requirement to perform tasks or work for the business. If the internship includes the potential for future employment, this further solidifies their status as workers, entitling them to the NMW.

The situation will be different if interns are only observing and not performing any actual work, they may not qualify as workers, thus exempting you from paying the NMW, provided there is no promise of future employment.

Working hours for interns

When setting the working hours for interns, it’s essential to consider the balance between gaining experience and respecting their academic and personal commitments. Interns should not be expected to work the same hours as full-time employees, especially if they are still studying. Generally, interns should work part-time hours to allow them to manage their coursework or other responsibilities effectively.

Typically, part-time internships involve working around 15-20 hours per week, while full-time internships might span 30-40 hours per week. During busy periods or peak seasons, it’s crucial to ensure that interns are not overworked and that their working hours comply with relevant employment laws.

Flexibility is key – allowing interns to adjust their schedules for exams or academic commitments can enhance their overall experience and productivity.

Always remember to provide adequate rest breaks and observe legal limitations on working hours to ensure a supportive and compliant internship programme.

As always, it is essential to comply with legal requirements and best practices, such as proper on-boarding, fair wages, and adherence to working hour regulations.



Hiring seasonal staff can greatly benefit your business by bringing in additional help during busy periods. Understanding the options available, limitations, and legal requirements to ensure a smooth hiring process is crucial.

If you need further assistance do get in contact so you can welcome your seasonal staff with confidence and watch your business thrive!

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.

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