Young Members

Employment Rights For Young People

The National Minimum Wage Rates

The GMB supports the minimum wage but would like to see the inbuilt discrimination against young workers removed. GMB Young Members are campaigning for employers to disregard the youth rates of the National Minimum Wage and pay all workers the same rate of pay for doing the same job. If you would like to get involved in this or any other campaigns please contact the young members' officer.

We believe it is what you do that matters, not your age.

Most employers pay at least the minimum wage but some employers attempt to exploit workers by ignoring this vital piece of legislation. If you are not receiving the minimum wage please contact the GMB immediately.

Employment rights for workers under 18 Maximum working hours

There are rules to protect you against working too long each week and working at night.  Normally you should not work, more than 8 hours a day, more than 40 hours a week or at night. But your employer can ask you to work longer if needed for what the law calls ‘maintaining continuity of service or production’, or to respond to a surge in demand.

In which case you can only do these extra hours if all of these conditions are met:

  • An adult is not available to perform the duties: and
  • Any training you are doing is not neglected or adversely affected; and
  • You must be properly supervised if the work is at night.

Over 18s can agree to opt out of the 48 hour average weekly limit by signing away these rights.  However you cannot do this if you are under 18; even if you want to work longer hours.  Not every job is covered by this protection, although the list of exempted jobs is getting smaller. Members of the armed forces are not covered by these rules, and young seafarers are covered by a separate set of rules.

Time off for workers under 18

  • You should get a proper break between stopping and starting work each day and a longer period off every week
  • You should get at least 12 hours rest in every 24 hour period, and this should be a single 12 hour break
  • You should get a rest period of at least 48 hours in every seven day period – again this should be in a single break
  • This two-day rest break per week is twice as long as that which workers over 18 enjoy.

Meal breaks for workers under 18

You should get an uninterrupted break of 30 minutes if you are working for four and a half hours or more. You should be able to take this away from where you work.

Night work for workers under 18

Normally you should not work at night.
For these purposes night starts at 10pm and ends at 6am, though you can still be contracted to work past 10pm providing that you don’t work between 11pm and 7am. Again, there are some exceptions. 

For further information please contact Jake O'Malley, young members’ officer, telephone 0345 337 7777.



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