How to employ youth during holiday season

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    Disclaimer: This article is based on legislation which was correct at time of publishing on July 11, 2022
    This page was last updated on September 21, 2023

    Holiday jobs have long been a way of giving those in education a financial boost as well as some experience of what to expect when they get out into the big wide world.  In all but a few specialist sectors, such as child modelling, it is illegal to employ anyone under the age of 13.

    What should I consider when employing young people?

    The employer will need to bear in mind the legal restrictions on employing those under 16, which limit the number of hours that they can work during holidays to between 25 and 35 hours a week, depending on age and also restrict the types of work that the youngsters can do.

    There is an additional requirement to obtain a permit from the local authority when employing school aged children (unless they are on work experience arranged by their school) which is also generally a condition for compliance with employer insurance policies.

    Even if you are employing your own children it is advisable to contact the local authority to ensure you are complying with the regulations.

    It is often overlooked that each individual living in the UK is entitled to the personal allowance, irrespective of age, so that youngsters can earn up to £12,570 in this current tax year, without paying tax.

    How does national insurance apply?

    National Insurance will only apply if the worker is aged over 16 and earns more than £242 in a week or £1,048 in a month.

    The National Insurance charge applies to each pay period in isolation, so that if less than £12,570 is earned in the tax year, but National Insurance is paid in one or more periods, it is not  possible to recover those charges.

    When does national minimum wage apply to young people?

    National Minimum wage regulations don’t apply to those under 16, but holiday regulations do apply and specifically require that anyone under the age of 16 should have two weeks a year in the school holidays period during which they do not work.

    Whilst it may be tempting to get some free labour by offering unpaid internships, if the individual is carrying out work that has a real value to you, regulations now require that the worker is paid under Minimum wage regulations.

    What are the PAYE procedures?

    Employers should not be tempted to pay young workers cash in hand.  It is important to comply with all the legal obligations as you would with any other employee, even if there is no deduction to be made from the earnings.

    Usual PAYE procedures should be followed to avoid problems with HMRC.

    In Summary

    At a time when most businesses are facing difficult trading challenges, this year the summer break for schools and colleges may provide as much of a benefit to the businesses that recruit young people as the real world work experience gives to the youngsters.

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