Employment of minors and young adults

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you want to employ minors or young adults? In the Netherlands special rules apply to the employment of young people regarding the kind of work and their working hours and rest times. These rules differ per age category.

Children aged between the ages of 13 and 16 are allowed to work outside school hours and in the holidays, but only under certain conditions. From the age of 16, young people are free to do any kind of work. Young people from 15 to 20 receive the minimum youth wage.

Children under 13

Children under 13 are not allowed to work. The ban on children’s labour applies to all children under 13 in the Netherlands, also to children of a different nationality.

12-year-olds (in Dutch) who have committed an offense and are given community service are allowed to do work. This may only be light work, under the supervision of an adult. They cannot work in a factory, or operate machines, or work near machines. There are rules for the (number of) working hours and rest times.

13 and 14-year-olds

13 and 14-year-old children can do jobs on school days and days off. They are not allowed to work in a factory, operate machines, or work near machines. Children of these ages are banned from doing some types of work, such as working at a bar that serves alcohol, operating machinery, lifting weights of over 10 kilograms, or working with chemicals. They may work less hours on schooldays than during holidays and they are not allowed to work on Sundays. There are rules for the (number of) working hours and rest times (in Dutch).


Children of 15 are allowed to do light work without supervision, after school and during the holidays. They are not allowed to work in a factory or operate machines. 15-year-olds can work a maximum of five days a week (in Dutch). On Sundays, they can work under certain conditions (in Dutch).

Youths of 16 and 17

Youths who are 16 or 17 can do just about any type of work, so long as it is not dangerous. For instance, they cannot work with hazardous substances, or in extreme noise. The work must not interfere with their school attendence. Only under expert supervision are they allowed to do work that involves risks (in Dutch). For these youths a maximum number of working hours and mandatory rest times apply as well (in Dutch).

Social traineeship and professional internship

Children aged between 13 and 15 can do light work during their social traineeship. You lay this down in a traineeship agreement with the school. Certain working hours and resting times apply to social traineeships (in Dutch).

Children of 14 and 15 can perform a professional internship under certain conditions (in Dutch). During this internship, they can do light factory work or operate machines. The child must be supervised. You draw up an internship agreement with the school. Both the child and its parents or carers must sign this agreement.

Delivering newspapers

15-year-olds can deliver papers and advertising brochures. There are, however, special rules for delivering morning newspapers. For instance, a 15-year-old is not allowed to work for more than 2 hours, and must have at least 12 hours uninterrupted resting time per day. The child and parents/carers must also sign a delivery agreement.

Holiday work

Young employees can work longer hours outside school hours and during holiday periods. There are several restrictions on when and where children are allowed to work, as well as on the types of employment.

Young people with their own company

Young entrepreneurs under the age of 18 are permitted to start their own company, but they need approval from their parents or carers. Those between the ages of 16 and 18 can apply to the sub-district court for limited legal capacity. This makes them responsible for their own actions. Children of under 16 always need approval and cannot apply for limited legal capacity.

Working in the hotel and catering sector

Children under the age of 16 are not allowed to work in areas where alcoholic drinks are served.

You may not employ children under 16 years old to deliver meals by (electric) bike. A younger child may however assist in delivering of meals and a 15 year old may deliver meals independently and on foot.

Children in radio, television, film and theatre and performances

If you want children between 7 and 13 years of age to participate in performances (in Dutch), such as acting in a film, fashion or TV show or commercial, or performing in a theatre, you need a dispensation from the ban on child labour. You apply for dispensation for children to perform cultural work (in Dutch) to the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA). You have to observe certain working hours and resting times (in Dutch).

Do you want a child of over 13 to take part in a performance? You do not need a dispensation. The child must be supervised by an expert. And you will have to observe certain working hours and resting times (in Dutch), too.

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