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Acas launches 'New to Work' guidance for young people on GCSE results day

Thursday 25 August 2016

Workplace experts Acas are calling on all GCSE students to follow their latest guidance to help ensure they know their rights and responsibilities at work.

The guidance provides essential advice on legal issues that young people may face at work, including special employment rights for 16 and 17 year olds, information on apprenticeships and the national minimum wage.

Acas Head of Guidance, Stewart Gee said:

"Exam day euphoria will soon give way to trepidation as the first day at work approaches. Most school leavers may not be aware of their rights at work or their responsibilities, as they get ready to start apprenticeships or part time jobs.

"Employees have rights at work but they are also responsible for being productive and respectful to others. This new guidance is an invaluable tool to help young employees navigate the first few months in the world of work.

"Managers can also use this guide to ensure they welcome their new staff at this challenging time and understand their obligations as employers. Employers who value new staff can reap the business rewards in the longer term."

The guidance warns new starters to get the basics right, such as arriving on time, following dress codes and to take care when talking about work on social media.

Zero hours contracts are also covered in the guidance, which is a top issue for young workers as the proportion of 16-24 year olds on zero hours contracts is three times higher than for other age groups. The guidance includes advice on:

Zero hours contracts

  • The employer doesn't have to provide any minimum working hours.
  • The employee doesn't have to accept any work offered.
  • Employees have same rights to national minimum wage and holiday pay.

16 and 17 year olds

  • Can work a maximum of five days a week.
  • Can work no more than eight hours a day.
  • Must have a 30 minute break in a 4.5 hour shift.
  • Cannot do night shifts.


  • Work for around 30 hours within a normal week.
  • Have the opportunity to work towards a recognized qualification.
  • Have a starting salary of £3.30 if they are under 19 years old.
  • A guarantee of job related training leading to a recognised qualification.

National minimum wage

  • Workers are entitled to at least the national minimum wage for their age group - apprentices under the age of 19 or in their first year as an apprentice have a different national minimum wage rate.

The New to work guidance is published.

More from Acas for young workers:

Notes to editors

  1. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  2. For media enquiries or to receive an embargoed copy of the guidance, please contact Steven Mather, Media and Internal Communications Manager on 020 7210 3749, or Shumon Ali-Rahman, Senior Media Manager on 020 7210 3688 or For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.