Can I get a full time job at 17?

You'll usually have more rights at work than an adult and you might not have to work as many hours.It's a good idea to check your school leaving age on GOV.UK because your rights d

Can I get a full time job at 17?

You'll usually have more rights at work than an adult and you might not have to work as many hours.

It's a good idea to check your school leaving age on GOV.UK because your rights depend on whether you've reached this age.

If you're too young to leave school, check your employment rights and working hours on GOV.UK.

If you've left school, or you stayed at school after you could have left, your rights are different.

Check the number of hours you should work

You shouldn't usually be asked to work more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day.

Your employer is allowed to ask you to work for longer in exceptional circumstances. Theycan only ask this if:

  • no one who's 18 or over is available to do the work
  • they need you because it's suddenly busy or to keep the service running
  • your education or training won't be affected by the work

This might be, for example, if you work in a care home and there's extra work because several residents are ill. If the adults who'd normally cover a shift are also ill, you can be asked to work.

You'll probably still be in education or training if you're under 18 and don't have the equivalent of 2 A-levels. Your employer shouldn't expect you to work when you're supposed to be learning, for example when you're:

  • at college or school, full time or part time
  • studying as part of your apprenticeship or traineeship

In most jobs, you cant normally be asked to work between 10pm and 6am. If your contract says you have to work until 11pm, thats alright but you shouldnt start work before 7am the next morning.

You can be asked to work at other times in exceptional circumstances. This might be, for example, if theres been a flood and you have to help to clear up.

If you work in some jobs, your employer can ask you to work at night if all the following apply:

  • no one 18 or over is available to do the work
  • its suddenly busy or youre needed to keep the service running
  • your education or training wont be affected by the work
  • youre supervised by an adult - if its necessary for your safety
  • youre given time to rest to make up for it - find out more about compensatory rest on GOV.UK

The hours you can be asked to work depend on the job:Times you can workType of jobBetween 10pm and 6am

  • sport
  • advertising
  • in a hospital
  • cultural or artistic workUp to midnight or from 4am
  • hotel or catering
  • retail, for example in a shop
  • pub, restaurant, bar or bakery
  • agriculture
  • postal or newspaper deliveries

Example

Mo works in a hospital and is asked to work until midnight because the adult who usually covers that shift is on holiday. There are more patients than usual at the moment so the departments very busy. Mo is allowed to do this work because theres no adult available and theres more work than normal.

Check what breaks and time off between days you should have

Youre allowed a 30-minute break if you work 4 and a half hours or more in a shift - you and your employer can decide when you have it. You might not be paid for your break - check with your employer.

You should have 48 hours off in one go each week.

You must have at least 12 hours off between each working day - unless your working day is split into short periods of work.

Example

Holly works in a cafe from 8-11am every morning and 5-9pm every night. She doesnt need 12 hours off overnight because she had a break in the afternoon.

Your employer can ask you to have shorter breaks or less than 12 hours off between days if:

  • no one 18 or over is available to do the work
  • its temporary
  • the work needs doing straight away and cant wait
  • something unexpected has happened
  • youre given time to rest to make up for it - find out more about compensatory rest on GOV.UK

For example, your employer could ask you to shorten your break if you work in a restaurant and a coach party arrives. Other colleagues have called in sick and there's no one else to do the work.

Check what work you can do

You shouldnt be asked to do work that:

  • youre not physically and mentally able to do
  • is a risk to your health because of extreme cold, heat or vibration - for example by working with a drill or in a freezer

If you work somewhere that sells alcohol

Check your local councils rules on whether you can serve alcohol. Normally youre allowed to if you work in a bar or restaurant, but some councils say you can only serve people with drinks in cans or bottles.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If youre asked to work with chemicals

You cant do work where you might be in contact with chemicals, toxic material or radiation unless:

  • its part of your training
  • youre supervised by an experienced person
  • your employer keeps you as safe as possible

Check what pay and time off you can get

Youre allowed the same amount of paid holiday as adults - check how much you should get.

To make sure youre being paid the right amount, check the minimum wage for your age on GOV.UK. You should get this even if youre working for someone you know, for example as a babysitter.

If your employers treating you unfairly

If youre being asked to work for too long or when you shouldn't be, you can get help from Acas. Theyre a government-funded body whose job is to help with workplace disputes. Theyll help you decide what to do, for example making a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive or your local council.

For other situations, you cantalk to your employerto try to solve the problem.

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