Work permits for young volunteers

Did you know young people volunteering in certain environments require a work permit from the local authority?

Why do young people need a permit?

Under child employment legislation, young people up to the compulsory school leaving age require a work permit for any activity considered as employment. This applies until the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they turn 16. A young person can be counted as being in employment if they are 'contributing to a business carried out for profit'. This may apply even if the young person is not being paid.

What voluntary roles need a permit?

All voluntary roles contributing to a business 'carried out for profit' will require a work permit. This applies even if the profit is used to fund charitable works. For example, a young person volunteering in a charity shop or a shop at a museum would require a permit. Similarly, if a young person is volunteering in a café or restaurant this would require a permit.

In circumstances where a permit is required, only young people over 13 years of age can carry out the role. There is also a limit to the time they can spend volunteering.

How do I apply for a permit?

Work permits are free and the application process is not complicated. There is a short work permit application form, which asks for information you will already have about the young person. Permits need to be applied for within seven days of the young person starting volunteering. You can ask them to bring their completed form on their first day.

If you already have young people volunteering with you, who you think may require a permit, then please complete an application form as soon as possible.

What happens if a young person does not have a work permit?

A young person may not be covered by the employers' liability insurance if they don't have the required work permit. Therefore, it is important to make sure young people have a permit where necessary.

Further details

If you are unsure whether a young person requires a permit to volunteer for your organisation or would like further information, please contact the Child Employment Team:

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