A guide to employing young people and school leavers

In this article, we discuss;

Employing school leavers and young adults

Kim Hrybko

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About Kim Hrybko

With a wide range of further education courses and options available to school-leavers, the traditional route of GCSEs, A Levels, then onto University to complete a degree is not always the right option for young people.

An engineering apprentice being mentored

Although legally required to remain in some form of education until they are at least 18 years old, many training opportunities, such as apprenticeships involve young people being employed and paid a salary by companies.

Here, we provide all the information you need to know about employing school leavers and young people.

Post GCSE school leavers – age 16 to 17

In England, young people can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 years old by the end of the summer holidays. They can then work up to a maximum of eight hours a day or 40 hours per week. However, they are required to:

  • Stay in full-time education by remaining at school in the sixth form, or moving to a further education college, or
  • Begin an apprenticeship or traineeship, or
  • Spend 20 hours or more a week working/volunteering while remaining in part-time training or education

Education is a devolved power, so there are slightly different rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As of September 2022, young workers aged 16 and 17 are entitled to earn at least £4.81 per hour and employers do need to record and report their pay as part of the payroll process. The general PAYE deductions will need to be made if they earn in excess of £123 a week.

As an employer you are not required to provide time off for the young worker to complete their training (unless part of a traineeship or apprenticeship), and you do not need to provide funding for their learning – the government funds all accredited training for 16 to 18-year-olds.

Post further education – age 18+

From the age of 18, young people can leave education and enter the workforce and can become a standard employee at any company. The main difference for a business is that the hourly National Minimum Wage rate rises from £4.81 for a 16 to 17-year-old, to £6.83 (correct as of September 2022), and continues to rise until they reach the age of 23.

Apprenticeships & traineeships


Apprenticeships last between one and five years and can be completed by anyone over the age of 16. Apprentices become an employee at a company with time off given to complete training, which is generally provided via a college. They are entitled to earn the National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice, as well as receive holiday pay and employee rights, such as statutory sick pay and parental leave. For more information, read our guide to employing an apprentice.

As an incentive for employers to offer apprenticeships they may be eligible to receive a payment of £1,000 to help with the costs associated with supporting the apprentice.


Unlike an apprenticeship, a young person will not be paid while undertaking a vocational traineeship. It can last from six weeks to one year and is more of a work placement preparing the young person for moving into an apprenticeship or further study.

Similar to apprenticeships, employers may be eligible to receive a payment of £1,000 per learner if 70 hours or more of work is completed by the young person.

Employing young workers and school leavers can be extremely beneficial to a business, as they will have a skillset which can be moulded to what is needed for a company, and they can become extremely loyal as they grow with a business.

If you would like further information, or assistance with your bookkeeping, please get in touch.

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