Job Start Payment
Job Start Payment is a new benefit to help you with the costs of starting a new job. You can apply if you're a young person who's been out of work and are on certain benefits. Find out more and apply.
School leaving age
School leaving age affects some of your rights in work. If you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September, you can leave school after 31 May of that year. If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year. This is the minimum school leaving age.
If you’re at school-leaving age, you can work full-time – but there are restrictions if you're under 18.
- work in a job you’re not physically or mentally capable of doing
- work in an environment which brings you into contact with chemical agents, toxic material or radiation
- do work which involves a health risk because of extreme cold, heat or vibration
You can only work under those circumstances if it’s necessary for your training, if there’s an experienced person supervising you or if risk is reduced to the lowest reasonable level.
However, these rules do not apply if you’re doing short-term or occasional work in a family business or private household.
If you’re under school leaving age, there are further restrictions.
If you’re 14 or 15:
- you can do ‘light work’ – but will not be able to work in places like factories or industrial sites or in most pubs or betting shops
- you can only work between 7am and 7pm
- in the summer holidays, you can work for up to 35 hours a week or 8 hours a day (5 hours for under-15s)
- if you work for more than 4 hours in a day you must take a rest break of one hour
- you need to take 2 consecutive weeks of holiday a year, during the school holidays
- you cannot do a job which might be harmful to your health, well-being or education
If you're under 14, you’re not allowed to work at all, except:
- to take part in sport, advertising, modelling, plays, films, television or other entertainment (but you'd need a performance licence)
- to do odd jobs for a parent, relative or neighbour
- to babysit
Other rules may exist depending on the by-laws of your local authority – contact your local authority to find out more.
You might also need an employment permit, issued by the education department of your local authority, which should be signed by your employer and one of your parents.
ACAS has a range of advice about your rights in work.
BetterThanZero is Scotland's movement against precarious work. Precarious and flexible work is work which is unprotected and insecure, for example a zero hours contract. For some workers, these types of contracts offer the flexibility they want to pursue other aspects of their lives. Others wish to move out of this type of contract. BetterThanZero offers help if you’re employed under insecure conditions.