Research and analysis

The regulation of child employment and options for reform

Research investigating the effectiveness of the current regulations of child employment in England.



In the early 1990s researchers argued that their evidence showed that significant numbers of young people were combining part-time employment with full-time education before they reached the end of compulsory education.

There is a significant gap between the number of young people working and work permit levels across the UK. An interdepartmental governmental review acknowledged this problem and the Better Regulation Task Force’s (BRTF) (2004) review of child employment legislation reinforced this view. The BRTF proposed that an alternative registration system, namely employer registration, should be introduced.

However, it has also been suggested that, before considering changing the registration system, there is a need to make sure that there is evidence that any alternative system will be more effective.

This project had three specific aims:

  • assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for registration
  • identify the main problems with the present registration system
  • evaluate options for reform

The research design for the project consisted of a number of discrete but inter-related sections. It drew primarily, but not exclusively, on qualitative data collection techniques. Sampling aimed to capture the range of views of participants within each part of the study.