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Jurriaan Schrofer

10 May, 2022

There are major staff shortages in the hospitality industry. The aftermath of the corona crisis has an effect on the staff working in the catering industry. After being open and closed alternately for two years, it appears that many staff in the catering industry have left for another sector. Whether the staff will return remains to be seen. The catering industry in the Netherlands is not the only sector that is struggling with major shortages of employees.
It's time to take a closer look at alternatives. In this blog we tell you everything about minors who want to work in the hospitality industry. Questions like: ‘ How long can they work? ’ and ‘ What work can they do? ’ are answered in detail, so that you know how, when and where you can use underage staff in your catering business. Got curious? Then read on quickly!

Underage staff in the hospitality industry

The good news is that minors are allowed to work in any case according to the law. Of course, this is accompanied by strict regulations. The rules, if they are followed, guarantee good conditions for the 15-year-old. In this way they indirectly also offer sustainable and long-term personnel to the employer. We start with the most important question: how much are they actually allowed to work?

How many hours can a 15-year-old work?

That differs per situation. The Central government has determined the maximum number of hours that may be worked, per situation. Matters such as compulsory education and holidays are taken into account in the maximum number of hours that can be worked. In the situations below, we assume that the fifteen-year-old is obliged to attend school.
Working during school days and school weeks
Someone aged fifteen may work a maximum of two hours on a school day. There is a maximum of 12 hours of work per school week.
Holiday work
You are allowed to work more during holiday weeks as a fifteen-year-old. During holidays or non-school days, the minor may work 8 hours a day. In a holiday week, 40 hours may be worked, but please note: someone aged 15 may work a maximum of four consecutive days. Monday to Friday is therefore not included, but at most Monday to Thursday.
There are also rules for the number of weeks that can be worked. A fifteen-year-old is allowed to work a maximum of six vacation weeks per year. The minor may also work for a maximum of four consecutive weeks.
Rules for non-compulsory school children
For minors without compulsory education, the rules are more flexible. Logical, of course, because they have more time for a job. While others have to go to school, the non-schoolers have time for other things, such as a side job. The following maximums apply to those who are not of compulsory school age: eight hours a day and forty hours a week. Regardless of whether it is school or vacation time.
What about a partial exemption from compulsory education?
Another category of fifteen-year-olds: those with a partial exemption. In principle, the same restrictions apply to them as to non-schoolers, but the time spent at school also counts as working time. So, for example, if someone still has to go to school for 8 hours a week, they can still work 32 hours in that week.
Other rules that you have to take into account
As an employer, in addition to the limited number of hours, you also have to deal with other rules. We list them below for you!
Someone aged 15:
  • is allowed to work on weekends, but not on both days. Permission from the parents or guardians is required to perform work on Sundays.
  • is allowed to work between 7:00 and 19:00. There is an exception for the holiday period; then you can work until 21:00.

What kind of work is a 15-year-old allowed to do?

In addition to the number of hours that can be worked, there are also restrictions with regard to the type of work that a 15-year-old can do. In general, the older the minor, the heavier work may be done.
Activities of a 15-year-old
A fifteen-year-old may do light work. Think, for example, of setting up the terrace, serving or helping with the dishes.
Liquor and Catering Act
The Liquor and Catering Act entails a far-reaching rule: 15-year-olds (everyone younger than 16) may not work in an area where alcohol is served. Working behind the bar is therefore not an option. It is allowed to work in ‘ alcohol-free ’ spaces. Internships are an exception to this rule, by the way.

In a nutshell: using fifteen year olds in a restaurant or cafe é

This blog contains a lot of information about the use of minors in the hospitality industry. Below we have listed the main points of the article.
The key takeaways of this article:
  • Compulsory school age 15-year-olds are allowed to work a maximum of 2 hours per day and 12 hours per week. During holidays or during non-school days a maximum of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
  • Non-school students are allowed to work 8 hours a day and a maximum of 40 hours a week.
  • During school days a 15-year-old is allowed to work between 7:00 and 19:00, during holidays 21:00 is the maximum time.
  • A 15-year-old may only do light work in areas where alcohol is not served.
As an employer, you have to take into account all kinds of rules when deploying fifteen-year-olds. Hopefully this blog has made it clear which rules currently apply. Rules can change, and it is therefore advisable to consult current (government) sources when deploying minors.
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