The EU has adopted minimum requirements for the protection of young workers (under 18 years of age) and their health and safety at work. It also outlaws child labour.
The EU Directive on the protection of young people at work (94/33/EC) insists that Member States must prohibit the employment of children (i.e. those under the age of 15 or still in full-time compulsory education). Some exceptions are possible for cultural, artistic, sports and advertising activities as well as for certain training contracts and certain kinds of light work by those aged at least 13 or 14. The employment of young people must be strictly controlled and protected under the conditions provided for in the Directive.
The Directive sets out the employer’s general obligations to protect and monitor young workers’ health and safety. It also specifies types of employment which must not be carried out by young people. This includes work which exceeds their mental or physical capacities and work involving harmful exposure to dangerous substances. There are also provisions on working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.
The text of the Directive is available, as well as the preparatory documents and reports on its transposition and implementation.