Children in employment and entertainment

There are laws around whether children of school age can be employed or can take part in performances.

Licences and permits 

To find out how the law affects you and what you need to do, please select one of the following options:

All children who require a performance licence must be chaperoned by either the child’s parent or legal guardian or a local authority registered chaperone.

What type of chaperone licence do I need?

If you are working in a professional capacity as a chaperone or are being paid to be a chaperone, you will need to apply for a professional licence. If you are doing the role unpaid, you can apply for a volunteer licence.

Please be aware that chaperone licences can take up 3 months to process. You must be a resident of Northamptonshire to apply for a licence, if you live in another area please check with your local council.

How much does a chaperone licence cost?

Both volunteer and professional chaperone licences include an enhanced child workforce Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. You will be required to attend a short ID check meeting in Northampton.

Type of licence​​Cost
​Volunteer chaperone licence​£15.00
​Professional chaperone licence​£55

How do I apply for a chaperone licence?

You can apply for a chaperone licence using the online form below.

Apply for chaperone licence

Renew a chaperone licence  

If you wish to  renew your existing Northamptonshire County Council Chaperone licence please use the online form below. We would suggest that you apply 3 months before your existing licence runs out.

Renew a chaperone licence

Child performance restrictions

Find out more

Further details can also be found on the NNCEE webpage, or by emailing

A licence is required if the performance meets any of the following criteria:

  • it takes place on licenced premises
  • is broadcast, filmed or recorded for public exhibition
  • a charge is made (even if there is no admission charge)

A licence is also required if the child:

  • performs for more than 3 days in 6 months
  • is being paid
  • requires time off from school

Is is illegal for the child to perform without a licence.

Performances arranged by schools that take place in a school do not need to be licenced. This does not include dance schools or music hubs.

Download and complete the licence application template:

Applications and supporting information (including school approval where applicable) should be emailed to

Please ensure you have fully completed the application and attached all the required supporting documentation.

Please allow up to 21 days for processing.

Performance exemption certificate

An exemption certificate is required when:

  • no payment is made to the child except for expenses
  • no time off school is required
  • the performance run is 4 days or less
  • the child hasn't already performed on 4 days in a 6 month period

Licences and exemption certificates can only be applied for by the producer, organiser or agent of a performance.

Apply for an exemption certificate

Please allow up to 21 days for processing.

Body of Persons Approval (BOPA)

This approval can be granted to any type of organisation including professional or amateur. Providing no payment is made to the child or to anyone else in respect of the child taking part and there is no absence from school.

You will need to demonstrate that you have clear, robust and well embedded safeguarding policy and arrangements in place to protect children. This will inform our decision and it is at our discretion whether to issue an approval.

You only need apply to us if your performance takes place within the North Northamptonshire or West Northamptonshire Area.

The BOPA will be issued for all children taking part regardless of where they live.

Further details can also be found on the NNCEE webpage or contact for further information.

Children (performances and activities) regulations and supporting information

Are children permitted to work?

The following restrictions apply:

​Age of child​Restrictions that apply
​Children under 13

​Children under the age of 13 years are not allowed to be employed in any capacity by any person(s) and this also includes parents and guardians.

Employment includes assistance in any trade or occasion which is carried on for profit, whether or not payment is received.

​Once a child reaches 13 years of age to the end of their compulsory education, they are allowed to work part-time - but within certain constraints.

​Children 13 to 16

Children of compulsory school age are not allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm on any day.

Once a child is over compulsory school age (on the last Friday in June in the academic year they are 16), registration for work and obtaining an employment permit under this particular legislation no longer applies, even if the child returns to school after this date - for A levels, GNVQ, etc. 

Do children working need a work permit?

If a child is volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, undertaking work experience organised by school or volunteering for a ‘not for profit’ organisation they do not require a work permit.

If they are volunteering in a charity shop then they will require a work permit.

During a child's first week at work the employer is required to submit a work permit application form in order to legally register the child's employment with the local authority in whose area the employment takes place.

Hours and place of work, employer details, child details and in some cases additional requirements will all be listed on the work permit. Work permits are specific to the child, the employer and the employment.

The employer is required to carry out a risk assessment and ask the parent to sign it. You will need to send this in with your application. Use the link below to download an example risk assessment form.

How to apply for a work permit

You can download the form below:

Please read the accompanying byelaws before completing the application.

Application process:

  • the employer completes the child's details, hours of employment, type of work and signs the form
  • the employer passes the form to the child who asks their parent or guardian to sign the form and check the risk assessment
  • the form is then forwarded to the child's school office whose staff will arrange for the form to be signed if they agree to the employment

The form is then emailed to who will process the application. If successful, copies will be emailed to the employer and parent or carer.

Please ensure you complete all the required paperwork and email it to us with the required supporting documentation.

Are there any regulations on working hours and types of employment?

A full list of types of employment and hours permissible is listed in Section 1 (Byelaws) in the application form above.

Can a work permit be refused?

A permit may be refused by the Local Authority if it considers that the employment is detrimental to the child's educational needs, or welfare. The child's attendance rate at school is also a consideration. 

Can the work permit be used for more than one job?

If a child has more than one job (whether it is with the same employer, another employer or at a different place of employment) each job needs to be registered separately.

What are the penalties for not having a work permit?

An employer who employs a compulsory school age child without a work permit is in contravention of the child employment regulations and action may be taken against them by the local education authority in whose area the employment takes place. This is applicable to all employers by all local education authorities.

Is there any relevant legislation?

For more information contact us at

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding children in employment and entertainment, you can email us at: