How long are children protected from full-time work?

Please note that information on exceptions is available on mouseover.


This map tells us until what age children are legally protected from full-time employment at a national level, with parental permission as the only exception.

More information:

  • We have defined full-time work as 35 hours of work per week.

If a weekly limit is not available, we calculate this based on the number of hours of work permitted on a school day, the number of hours of work permitted on a non-school day, and the number of days of rest guaranteed per week.

Some countries prohibit work during school hours and during the night but set no maximum on work hours. In these countries, it is assumed that full-time work is permitted because if the only restrictions are that a child is not permitted to work during school hours (a 6-hour school day is assumed) and for 12 hours during the night, there are still 6 hours when the child can work on school days and 12 hours per day on weekends.

When a country guarantees up to 36 hours of rest, it is given credit for 1 day of rest per week. When a country guarantees between 37 and 48 hours, it is given credit for 2 days of weekly rest. When labor legislation does not specify a child-specific rest period, the rest period guaranteed to working adults is applied.

Some countries determine the number of hours of work permitted for a child at a given age based on whether or not the child is enrolled in school. Children who are not enrolled are allowed to work more hours. In these cases, after children reach the age at which education is no longer compulsory, we use the number of hours permitted if a child is not enrolled in school.

  • If a country allows children to work at a younger age with parental permission, the younger age is included in the map.
  • On mouseover, a note will appear for some countries which indicates that they have a minimum age, “but with major exceptions which allow younger children to work.” We consider these exceptions to be major loopholes that allow children younger than the official minimum age to work. These exceptions fall into the following categories: work with family members; specific types of work, such as agricultural, temporary, or seasonal; work that is deemed essential to the child or family; or upon minister or government approval or request, because these may not be adequately protective in practice.  These countries are represented on the map according to the official minimum age, however it is important to be aware of these exceptions.