Minors and working

Young people who are under the age of 15 or subject to compulsory school attendance may also work, provided that the work is simple and does not impede the acquisition of education.

Young people under the age of 18 must have the consent of their parent(s) to enter into an employment contract. Children aged 7–14 also need the consent of a labour inspector in addition to that of their mother or father, which the employer shall apply for.

Work permitted for young people

People under the age of 18 are given permission to work depending on their age and whether they are subject to compulsory school attendance. Young people are subject to compulsory school attendance until they acquire basic education or reach the age of 17.

Work that is permitted for young people must:

  • be safe for health;
  • not interfere with the acquisition of education;
  • be in accordance with their abilities;
  • legally allowed.

Children aged 7–12 may do light work only in the fields of culture, arts, sports, or advertising.

Young people aged 13–14 and pupils aged 15–16 may do work that involves simple tasks and does require great physical or mental effort.

16-year-olds, who do not go to school, and 17-year-olds may perform any work that does not endanger the health of young people.

Minors may not perform work that is related to the handling of alcohol and tobacco, incl. retail sale or the servicing of customers.

What kind of contract should be entered into

Work is usually performed on the basis of an employment contract, but arrangements can be made to perform work on the basis of authorisation agreements, contracts for services, or other similar contracts. Working without a written contract is the most unreliable way of doing things.

Employment contracts are concluded to perform work that has been agreed upon; employment contracts govern the work process, not the objective to be reached.

Contracts for services are concluded to achieve a particular objective that is agreed upon. Suitable for cleaning, one-time/short-term construction and repair works, etc.

Authorisation agreements are concluded for performances, representation, etc.

Terms and conditions that have been agreed upon and stipulated in an employment contract may only be amended by the agreement of the parties.

Working and rest time

Minors work a reduced number of hours:

  • 7–12-year-olds may work up to three hours a day (15 hours a week);
  • 13–14-year-olds or pupils may work up to four hours a day (20 hours a week);
  • 15-year-olds who are not required to attend school may work up to six hours a day (30 hours a week);
  • 16–17-year-olds who are not required to attend school may work up to seven hours a day (35 hours a week).

There must be at least 20 hours of rest time between the working days of 13–14-year-olds or young people attending school.

15-year-olds who are not required to attend school must have at least 18 consecutive hours of rest time over a period of 24 hours, and at least 48 consecutive hours of rest time over a period of seven days.

16–17-year-olds who are not required to attend school must have at least 17 consecutive hours of rest time over a period of 24 hours, and at least 48 consecutive rest hours of rest time over a period of seven days.

Minors may not work:

  • longer hours than the respective permitted amount;
  • right before the beginning of a school day;
  • more than half of the duration of each school holiday if the minor attends school;
  • between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In some cases, minors may work late in the evening: creative work in the fields of culture, arts, sports, or advertising may be performed under adult supervision from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Young people have the right to a holiday of 35 calendar days at a time of their choosing.

Read more about the working life of young people on the Tööelu (working life) portal.

Last amended: 03-05-2017 00:00 | Compiled by: Labour Inspectorate, Portal Tööelu