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What employment rights do I have as a secondary school Student?

As a secondary student working in a Saturday or part-time job, it can be tempting to say "yes" to everything you’re asked to do. However, you should know that as a young person in work, you have the right to question anything that you think is unfair.

In order to help you identify unfair treatment in the workplace, we’ve written this post, which looks at what rights you have as a secondary school student at work.

'What employment rights do I have as a secondary school student?' 

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At what age can I start working?

A lot of young people think they can’t start working until they have a National Insurance Number (a unique number that makes sure all the tax contributions you make are logged against your name). However, this isn’t always the case. In the UK, you can start working in a few kinds of work at the age of 13, and other forms of "light work" from age 14. Of course, you’ll be restricted in the number of hours you can work and in what you can do, but it is possible to work at this age.

Typical jobs for students under the age of 16 include:

  • Delivering newspapers
  • Delivering and collecting milk orders
  • Car washing
  • Gardening

These jobs tend to be evening or weekend work and don’t require any formal training or carry any major health and safety risks.

For more information on what jobs you can do when you’re under 16, have a look at this article on the WorkSmart website.

How many hours a week can I work when I’m still at school?

At the age 14, the number of hours you can work are:

  • Up to 5 hours on a Saturday.
  • Up to 5 hours on weekdays during the holidays, except on Sundays, when you can only work up to 2 hours.
  • Up to 2 hours on a Sunday.
  • Up to 2 hours per day during the school week, outside the hours of 7am and 7pm, and not more than 12 hours per week.

You must also have at least 2 weeks next to each other without any work during the school year.

At 15, and when you are 16 and still at school, the rules are slightly different. You can work up to 8 hours on a Saturday or on a weekday when you're not at school. You can also work up to 35 hours during a non-school week. Otherwise, the rules are the same.

What is the National Minimum Wage for a school student?

If you’re under 16, there is no national minimum wage, how much you are paid depends on your employer. However, it’s worth knowing that the minimum wage for a 16 year old in the UK is £4.81, so you can use this figure to compare with your pay (2022 figures).

Am I allowed time off work as a school student?

If you’re under 16, then you’re not legally entitled to holiday pay from work. However, you are not allowed to work during school hours, or above a certain number of hours on a school day.

If you’re aged over 16 and you’re working full time, you’re entitled to at least 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, which works out at 28 days per year, including bank holidays.

What health and safety rights do I have at work?

As with an employee of any age, you have the right to feel safe at your work and you shouldn’t be expected to take on any tasks that you haven’t been properly trained for. When you first start your job, you should be given a health and safety induction, which should highlight any potential hazards that you might come across in your job. Your employer should also alert you to your health and safety responsibilities and what procedures you should follow to report any issues.

Do you have any more questions about your rights at work as a secondary school student? What are your experiences of working while at school?

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Image credit

Lead image via Francisco Osorio via Flickr