United Kingdom flag

Entering the workforce is a significant milestone in anyone’s life, especially for young individuals under the age of 18. Understanding your rights and the types of workplaces that cater to younger employees can be crucial for a positive and lawful work experience. In the UK, specific regulations and protections are designed to ensure that young workers are treated fairly and safely. This comprehensive guide will explore these aspects, helping you to check your rights at work if you’re under 18 and navigate the working world with confidence.

Introduction to Workplace Rights for Under-18s

The transition from education to employment is an exciting journey. However, it comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities, particularly when it comes to understanding your legal rights in the workplace. For young workers in the UK, there are specific laws and guidelines in place to protect you from exploitation and ensure your work does not interfere with your education or personal development.

At Contend, we’re committed to providing the easiest legal help in the UK, especially for young individuals stepping into the workforce. Our AI legal experts are here to guide you through understanding your workplace rights, ensuring you’re well-equipped to navigate any legal queries you might have.

What are my legal rights as a worker under 18?

Understanding Different Types of Workplaces

Formal Employment

Formal employment refers to working under a contract of employment. This includes part-time, full-time, temporary, and permanent roles. Employers must adhere to minimum wage laws, provide a safe working environment, and respect working hour limits for under-18s. To make sure you’re being paid the right amount, check the minimum wage for your age on GOV.UK. You should get this even if you’re working for someone you know, for example as a babysitter.

Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships offer a blend of work and education, allowing you to gain practical skills while continuing your studies. These roles come with specific rights regarding pay, working hours, and training.

Volunteering and Work Experience

Volunteering or undertaking work experience provides valuable insights into different industries. While these positions are usually unpaid, they must still offer a safe and respectful environment.

Self-Employment and Freelancing

Increasingly popular among young entrepreneurs, self-employment and freelancing offer flexibility but require understanding of tax obligations and self-protection in work agreements.

Am I being paid correctly under my employment contract?
Employment: type of workplace 4 6

Legal Protections for Under-18 Workers

Working Hours and Rest Breaks

The law is clear on how many hours you can work and the breaks you’re entitled to. If you’re under 18, you cannot work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. You’re also entitled to a 30-minute break for every 4.5 hours worked and must have two days off each week. If you work overtime and you’re given time to rest to make up for it – find out more about compensatory rest on GOV.UK.

Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage for workers under 18 is lower than for adults, but it provides a baseline to ensure young workers are compensated for their time.

Health and Safety

Employers must conduct risk assessments and implement measures to ensure young workers are not exposed to hazardous conditions. Additional protections are in place for tasks that are deemed particularly risky.

Education and Training

If you’re under 18, your employer must allow you time for education or training. This is part of the government’s effort to ensure work does not hinder personal development and skill acquisition.

Am I being given the right breaks and working hours?

Checking Your Rights at Work

Employment Contracts

Ensure you have a written contract that outlines your role, working hours, pay, and other terms of employment. This document is crucial for understanding your rights and responsibilities.

Pay Slips

Regularly check your payslips to ensure you’re receiving the correct wages and that deductions, such as taxes, are accurately calculated.

Safe Working Conditions

Your employer must provide a safe working environment. This includes proper training, safety equipment, and measures to prevent accidents and injuries.

Discrimination and Harassment

The law protects workers from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly due to your age, gender, race, or any other characteristic, it’s important to seek help.

Need help understanding your employment contract or pay slip? Chat with us now!

How Contend Can Help

At Contend, we understand that navigating your workplace rights can be daunting, especially for younger workers. Our AI legal experts are designed to provide clear, understandable guidance tailored to your situation. Whether you have questions about your employment contract, working hours, or how to address issues in the workplace, Contend is here to support you.

How can I address an issue with my working hours?


Understanding your rights in the workplace is essential for a fair and safe work experience. By familiarizing yourself with the types of workplaces available and the specific protections in place for under-18s, you can confidently step into the workforce. Remember, if you ever feel unsure about your rights or need legal guidance, Contend’s AI legal experts are just a chat away. 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.

Embark on your work journey with confidence, knowing you have the support and resources to protect your rights. Chat now with Contend’s legal expert and take the first step towards understanding and asserting your workplace rights.

For more info, check out some of our related articles:

Check if Contend can help you with your issue

Solve your legal question quickly
and easily with Contend.

This material is for general information only and does not constitute
tax, legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on any
information contained herein to make (or refrain from making) any
decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your
own particular situation. Contend Inc is not regulated by the
Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.