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Children young people and families

Children's licences and permits

Child employment

Child employment during Covid-19

North Somerset Council has suspended all arrangements for child employment. However, businesses can apply for a dispensation, provided they meet clear criteria to ensure the child's wellbeing is safeguarded and the child is able to work in safe conditions.

The Government has now produced guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Although this guidance is not specific to child employees, it is strongly advised that employers read it to assist them in producing risk assessments.

DfE guidance highlights laws that state young people of 16 years or younger should only do, “light work which is not harmful to the safety, health or development of children.”

Employers applying for a dispensation will need to sign an employer statement and code of conduct and complete a risk assessment. Parents will also need to sign a medical declaration. All forms are available on the website and should be sent to

Once supporting documentation is received then the council will consider whether dispensation may be agreed and employers will be advised in writing.

This is in line with guidance from the Department for Education, National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment and North Somerset Council bylaws.  The situation will be reviewed regularly in line with government guidance and updates will be communicated to employers.

What the government statement means

Many employers will have welcomed the statement that allows certain businesses to resume operation, but we expect child employment dispensation to be applied for in order for children to be able to work safely.

Hours and tasks

Child employees can only work for the hours granted on your original child employment permit unless permission has been given as part of your application for dispensation. They can also only carry out the work tasks specified on the original permit unless permission has been given for variation. All children must be available to complete school work during school hours.

Year 11 students may work full-time without the need for a child employment permit. 

Relaxation of restrictions

It is unclear at this time what the implications of any easing of restrictions might look like. Suspension of child employment permits in North Somerset will remain in place until otherwise advised. 


Your child employee cannot work as a volunteer instead. Children volunteering at any business that is carried on for profit normally requires an employment permit. This may include volunteering for charities. 

Applying for a new permit

We will still process new applications, with priority given to applications where employers wish children to start work as soon as possible. In these cases, the appropriate dispensation forms must accompany the application.

If you made an application before Covid-19 struck you may still apply for dispensation. We will process these as soon as possible. 

Failure to apply for dispensation

If you continue to employ children without applying for dispensation then we may revoke your child employment permits. This will be permanent and permits will have to be reapplied for. The council will work with you in the first instance to try to resolve this and to support you with applications for dispensation. 

Employing children without a permit 

Employing children without a permit is illegal. You can contact us in confidence at if you believe a business is employing a child without a permit.    

We will always try to work with employers to resolve these matters. However, there may be occasions when it is necessary for us to take action to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of children is protected. Ultimately the matter may be referred to the Magistrates’ Court, where the maximum penalty is £1,000 per offence or 1-month imprisonment.