Hoppa yfir valmynd

Young People at Work

Employers are responsible for creating a safe and healthy work environment for young people and must ensure that the work is appropriate for their age and maturity.

Young people are, in general, not allowed to do work that is beyond their physical or psychological capacity or involves risk to their health. Young workers also need to familiarize themselves with risk factors in the work environment that can threaten their health and safety, and therefore they need to be provided with  appropriate support and training.

Young workers are more likely to have accidents and mishaps than older workers, as they are often inexperienced and require more guidance and training. It is important for young people to know what characterizes a good workplace that promotes the safety, health and well-being of all age groups. Their safety awareness needs to be developed from an early age so that they have both the knowledge and the courage to respond if their health and safety, and that of others in the workplace, is not adequately ensured.

The Terms Young People, Child and Adolescent

  • Young people means any person under 18 years of age
  • Child means any person under the age of 15, or a person in compulsory education.
  • Adolescent means a person who has reached the age of 15, but is under the age of 18 and no longer in compulsory education.

Young People in the Workplace

If young people are at work in the workplace, a written safety and health plan must take this into account. When carrying out a risk assessment, which is part of a written safety and health plan, the employer must specifically assess the risks that may threaten the safety of young workers specifically.

When selecting and organizing the work of young people, it should be ensured that their physical and psychosocial health and safety are not at risk and that the work does not have a disruptive effect on their education or development.

When carrying out a risk assessment, special consideration shall be given to risks that may arise from the inexperience of young workers and the fact that they have not reached full maturity. The reason is that they are often not able to realize all the risk factors in the work environment. Physical, organic, chemical and psychological effects that may affect young people in the long or short term, should be taken into consideration in the selection of preventative measures.

When carrying out a risk assessment for young workers, it is necessary to identify and evaluate, e.g.:

  • What tasks young people are not allowed to perform, for example work with dangerous machinery and equipment,  dangerous substances or in conditions that are not suitable for their physical or psychological abilities
  • Tasks they may only perform under supervision
  • Organization of working hours, i.e. daily and weekly working hours, length of working shifts and holidays
  • Need for project management and its arrangements
  • Need for information, guidance and training and how to manage it
  • Preventative measures for bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence
  • The needs of young people with disabilities or special needs.

Based on the results of the risk assessment, it is necessary to assess what the employer’s response needs to be to ensure the health and safety of the young people in the workplace. An employer may need to improve the working environment by either avoiding the risk or reducing it as much as possible. The prevention plan needs to take this into account.

Particular attention must be paid to the following:

  • That the work does not include jobs that young people are not allowed to do or situations that are not suitable for their age and maturity
  • Ensure that young people receive adequate instruction and guidance
  • Have discussions with staff representatives, i.e. the trade union representative and/or safety representative, as well as the young people themselves, about the organization of their work
  • Inform the parents and guardians of young people about risks in the work environment and preventive measures
  • Ensure that young workers enjoy adequate health and safety protection regardless of the form of employment, employment rate or period of employment

Project Management When Young People are in the Workplace

The manager, for example the foreman, needs to ensure that employees follow the safety rules that apply in the workplace, as well as make sure that they understand them and the importance of following them. This is especially important when young people work in the workplace. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the manager has reached the age of 18. The manager always leads by example and must have sufficient insight into the nature of the work.

Good project management includes: 

  • Evaluating the new employee’s competence to perform the work
  • Assigning tasks according to individual abilities
  • Informing and educating about good work practices
  • Demonstrating proper working methods, at a slow pace if necessary
  • Monitoring the employee’s performance and repeating the demonstration to increase understanding of the work if necessary
  • Taking preventative measures to prevent accidents, such as using safety guards, fencing off danger zones, setting rules of procedure and conducting regular inspections
  • Listening to the young people, consulting and sharing information with them, for example by having them help with the risk assessment

Work that Young People are Not Permitted to Do

When young people are hired, both the nature of the work in question and in the conditions that exist in the workplace need to be specifically considered.

The Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents deals specifically with work that young people are not allowed to do and circumstances that are neither suitable for their age nor maturity. It is therefore important for employers to familiarize themselves with the rules that apply in this respect.

For example, young people may not be employed where they work on or around dangerous machinery, with dangerous substances, where conditions are not suitable for their age or maturity, such as when heavy loads need to be lifted, there is a risk of permanent damage to health or to do other dangerous jobs and tasks.

However, the work of adolescents, which is a necessary part of trade training or vocational training, is in most cases exempt from the ban, as it is necessary to complete their studies.

For example, youths may not be employed in jobs where they work on dangerous machinery, with dangerous substances or where conditions are not suitable for their age or maturity, such as when heavy loads need to be lifted, there is a risk of permanent damage to health or other dangerous jobs and tasks.

However, the work of adolescents, which is a necessary part of trade training or vocational training, is in most cases exempt from the ban, as it is necessary to complete their studies.

Dangerous Equipment and Tasks

Equipment and tasks that are prohibited for young people according to the Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents.

  • Fast-moving machines with sharp objects such as: band saws, circular saws for both wood and iron, milling machines, planers, sharpening machines and cross-cut saws. Also jigsaws, cutters and drills for drill bits over 13 millimeters.
  • Demolition hammers or machines with reciprocating motion and presses such as: punches, veneer presses, edge gluing presses and other air or hydraulic presses. Also various types of plastic casting machines, die-casting machines, pouring casting machines, plastic injection machines, garbage presses and clothes presses.
  • Machines with open rollers and augers
  • Stone crushing machines, large choppers and large centrifuges
  • Chainsaws, bush saws and tree trimmers
  • Nail and staple guns with a weight of staples or nails over 0.3 grams
  • High-pressure equipment for cleaning, paint cleaning, descaling and such, operating at pressures above 70 bar
  • Mowers, earth-shredders and snow blowers

Young people are not permitted to operate machinery unless they have a certification to operate such machinery.

Young people are also generally prohibited from driving tractors. An exception is made for adolescents aged 15 and older driving off-road if they work in a family business (for example on a farm), and it only applies if the tractor is not connected to another device with a drive shaft.

Adolescents aged 16 and 17 may drive a tractor with a coupling device but without a drive shaft on the road and off-road if they have a driving license or special certification from the Icelandic Transport Authority to drive a tractor.

Lifts other than passenger lifts, cranes, platform lifts, work lifts, suspension platforms and winches.

Lubrication, cleaning, repairs and other work on engines, machinery and equipment that is turned on where moving parts are accessible and can cause accidents.

For example, demolition hammers, concrete vibrators and similar machines.

  • Work near high-voltage structures or lines that pose a risk of electric shock
  • Welding and Burning
  • Arc welding, welding and flame cutting

List of machines and equipment that adolescents aged 16 -17 years are allowed to work with:

  • Tractors that are directly connected to trailers or equipment without a drive shaft, provided that the person in question is licensed to drive a tractor
  • Non-motorized forklifts
  • Lawn mowers
  • Band polishing machines and staple guns with a staple weight over 0.3 gr
  • Buffers
  • Working with high pressure equipment with a compressive strength of up to 150 bar (15 MPa)
  • Sorting machines and washing machines, for example, for potatoes used in farm work
  • Jig saws
  • Light electric demolition hammers for a maximum of 30 minutes a day when the oscillation strength exceeds 130 dB

List of machines and equipment that young people, 15 years and older, may work with in family businesses (Appendix 1 C to the Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents):

  • Tractors directly connected to trailers or devices without a drive shaft
  • Lawn mowers on wheels with a toggle switch where the operator walks behind the machine
  • Lawn mower with a seat for the operator The machine must be so designed that the engine stops if the operator leaves the control seat.

Dangerous Work

It is not permitted to employ young people in jobs where:

  • Handling heavy loads is required which in the long or short term can harm their health and development. Unnecessary physical exertion of youth at work, as well as incorrect postures or movements, should be avoided. Having youths lift loads weighing more than 12 kilos should be avoided. If working condition are bad in terms of physical exertion, it can lead to a lower maximum weight, see Annexes I and II in the rules on safety and hygiene when handling loads. If working conditions are very good, exceptions to the maximum weight can be made. Having youths lift loads weighing more than 25 kilos is prohibited.
  • The physical or mental development of young people can be endangered, such as due to violence or other special danger, unless they work with adults. This applies, for example, to jobs in kiosks, sales buildings, fast food restaurants, petrol stations and similar places where shopping takes place.
  • Circumstances do not suit their physical or mental abilities. Examples of such jobs are individual piecework where machinery determines the speed of work and work in slaughterhouses in the killing of animals.
  • There is a risk of permanent damage to health, for example due to:
    • harmful radiation, such as ionizing radiation,
    • lack of oxygen,
    • high air pressure, such as in high pressure chambers or when diving,
    • handling of equipment for the production, storage or use of compressed, liquid or dissolved gases,
    • unusual environmental conditions, such as extreme cold, heat, noise or vibration,
    • production and handling of explosives, for example fireworks,
    • tanks, vats, containers and bottles containing chemical pests.
  • There is a risk of accident and it can be assumed that children and adolescents may have difficulty understanding or avoiding due to complacency or lack of experience or training. Examples are jobs that involve the risk of a high-voltage current, working with wild or dangerous animals or the risk of fall or the collapse of banks or the like.

Working Hours of Youths Aged 13 - 17 Years

The working hours of young people vary. The following table shows the maximum working hours of youths when the school is in session and on school holidays, as well as information on prohibited time and rest.

Children 13-14 yearsChildren 15 years in compulsory educationAdolescents 15-17 years
During school season 2 hours a day,
12 hours a week
2 hours a day,
12 hours a week
8 hours a day,
40 hours a week
Outside school season7 hours a day,
35 hours a week
8 hours a day,
40 hours a week
8 hours a day,
40 hours a week
Work prohibitedFrom 20.00 - 06.00From 20.00 - 06.00From 22.00- 06.00
Rest 14 hours a day,
2 days a week
14 hours a day,
2 days a week
12 hours a day,
2 days a week

Various exceptions are given from the general rules that appear in the table. They can be found under the sections below.

Children Under 13 Years of Age

The work of children under the age of 13 is generally prohibited. However, children under the age of 13 may be hired to take part in cultural or artistic events and sports and advertising activities with  permission from the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health. Working hours and workload must be arranged in such a way that the children’s schooling is not disturbed or their health and safety threatened. Special consideration shall always be given to their age and maturity when organizing such work.

Children 13-14 Years of Age

The work of 13 and 14 year-old children is generally prohibited except for jobs that are considered safe, of a lighter nature and are listed in Annex 4 of the Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents. Such work must not endanger the safety and health of children.

    • Light feeding, herding and keeping of animals
    • Light gardening work (including on school gardening plots under the supervision of a teacher) and harvesting work without machines
    • Garbage cleaning
    • Light fish processing work, for example light sorting or sorting without machines
    • Light work in specialty stores and supermarkets, excluding work at cash registers
    • Reception of light goods, packaging, sorting and stacking. Light manual work such as wrapping light products, polishing or sanding
    • Minor cleaning and setting tables. Sorting and labeling of laundry
    • Light manual work on assembly, except for soldering, welding and working with dangerous substances
    • Painting and proofing with environmentally friendly substances, except spray painting
    • Light errand work, for example with newspapers and advertisements. Newspaper sales, newspaper and post delivery
    • Light office work

    Please note that the above list is not exhaustive.

  • Working hours during school season may be two hours on a school day and twelve hours per week in the case of work that takes place during school season but outside of regular school hours.
  • Working hours outside school season, such as summer holidays, Christmas and Easter holidays, can be seven hours a day and 35 hours a week
  • The working hours of children, 14 and older, in vocational training that is part of compulsory education can be up to eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.
  • Children aged 13 – 14 are not allowed to work during the period from 20.00 – 6.00
  • Children at this age need a minimum of 14 consecutive hours of rest per day and a minimum of two days of rest in each seven-day period. It is desirable that the days are continuous, if possible, and generally include Sundays.

Children 15 years or Older (in Compulsory Education)

The work of 13 and 14 year-old children still in compulsory education is generally prohibited except for those jobs that are considered safe, of a lighter nature and are listed in Annex 4 of the Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents.

A few exceptions apply when a child has reached the age of 15.

Children aged 15 and over who work for a family-owned business may work on certain machines and equipment that are otherwise prohibited.

  • Tractors directly connected to trailers or devices without a drive shaft
  • Lawn mowers on wheels with a toggle switch where the operator walks behind the machine
  • Lawn mower with a seat for the operator The machine must be so designed that the engine stops if the operator leaves the control seat

Jobs that are part of a work training camp and are performed under the guidance of a supervisor:

  • Mowing gardens with a motorized hand-held mower with a toggle switch. Safety shoes, hearing protection and face shields must be worn
  • Mowing gardens with a motorized scythe. Safety shoes, hearing protection and face shields must be worn
  • Manual distribution of manure
  • Application of livestock manure to plants
  • Assistance in daycare playgrounds and schoolyards

Children aged 15 and over and in compulsory education may perform certain work that is otherwise prohibited, when the work in question is a necessary part of trade education and vocational training.

This may include work on or around hazardous machinery, hazardous tasks and work with dangerous substances. The work is then carried out under the strict supervision of qualified individuals who ensure the utmost safety.

    • Light feeding, herding and keeping of animals
    • Light gardening work (including on school farms under the supervision of a teacher) and harvesting work without machines
    • Garbage cleaning
    • Light fish processing work, for example light sorting or sorting without machines
    • Light work in specialty stores and supermarkets, excluding work at cash registers
    • Reception of light goods, packaging, sorting and stacking. Light manual work such as wrapping light products, polishing or sanding
    • Minor cleaning and setting tables Classification and labeling of laundry
    • Light manual work on assembly, except for soldering, welding and working with dangerous substances
    • Painting and proofing with environmentally friendly substances, except spray painting
    • Light errand work, for example with newspapers and advertisements. Newspaper sales, newspaper and post delivery
    • Light office work

    Please note that the above list is not exhaustive.

  • Working hours during school season may be two hours on a school day and twelve hours per week in the case of work that takes place during school season but outside of regular school hours.
  • Working hours outside school season, such as summer holidays, Christmas and Easter holidays, can be eight hours a day and 40 hours a week
  • The working hours of children, 15 and older, in vocational training that is part of compulsory education can be up to eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.
  • Children aged 15 years and older are not allowed to work during the period from 20.00 – 6.00
  • Children at this age need a minimum of 14 consecutive hours of rest per day and a minimum of two days of rest in each seven-day period. It is desirable that the days are continuous, if possible, and shall generally include Sundays.
  • Rules on working hours for young people do not apply to work in cultural, artistic, sports and advertising activities, where the same rules apply as for adults. However, working hours and work arrangements must always be arranged so that schooling is not disrupted.

Adolescents 15 Years and Older (After Compulsory Education)

Adolescents are generally permitted to work when their compulsory education is finished, but the Regulation on the Work of Children and Adolescents stipulates the work that they are not permitted to perform, cf. Appendices 1A, 2 and 3.

A few exceptions apply to this age group of adolescents.

Adolescents who work for a family-owned business may work on certain machines and equipment that are otherwise prohibited.

  • Tractors directly connected to trailers or devices without a drive shaft
  • Lawn mowers on wheels with a toggle switch where the operator walks behind the machine
  • Lawn mower with a seat for the operator The machine must be so designed that the engine stops if the operator leaves the control seat

Jobs that are part of a work training camp and are performed under the guidance of a supervisor:

  • Mowing gardens with a motorized hand-held mower with a toggle switch. Safety shoes, hearing protection and face shields must be worn
  • Mowing gardens with a motorized scythe. Safety shoes, hearing protection and face shields must be worn
  • Manual distribution of manure
  • Application of livestock manure to plants
  • Assistance in daycare playgrounds and schoolyards

Adolescents may perform certain jobs that are otherwise prohibited for them when the jobs in question are a necessary part of trade education and vocational training.

This may include work on hazardous machinery, hazardous tasks and with dangerous substances. The work is then carried out under the strict supervision of qualified individuals who ensure the utmost safety.

The working hours of adolescents who are not in compulsory education may not exceed eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.

When adolescents’ work is part of practical or academic studies, the time spent teaching is considered a part of daily and weekly working hours. If the daily working hours exceed four hours, the adolescent is entitled to a minimum of a 30 minutes break each day, which should be continuous if possible.

Nighttime Work

Adolescents are generally not allowed to work during the period from 22.00 – 6.00.

Exceptions to this principle are as follows:

  • Work in a bakery from 4:00
  • Work in hotels and restaurants, gas stations, cinemas and theaters or similar activities until 24:00
  • Work in health institutions or in comparable institutions, but it young people are permitted to work between 24:00 and 4:00, provided that special care is taken with daily and weekly rest periods. An adolescent shall have the right to a health examination if they do nighttime work, from 22.00-6.00, unless nighttime work is only done in exceptional cases.
  • For work in cultural, artistic, sports and advertising activities, the same rules apply as for adults. However, working hours and work arrangements must always be arranged so that schooling is not disrupted.

Daily Rest Period

An adolescent needs a minimum of twelve hours of continuous rest a day. It is possible to deviate from this in the case of work that is divided up through the day and lasts for short periods at a time.

Weekly Rest Period

During each seven-day period, the adolescent should be given a minimum of two days’ rest. The days shall be continuous, if possible, and generally include Sundays, unless technical and organizational reasons justify otherwise. In such cases, however, the rest may never be shorter than 36 consecutive hours.

Deviations from the general rule on weekly rest periods may be made in the case of adolescents’ work in hospitals or similar institutions, work in agriculture, tourism or in hotel and restaurant operations. The same applies to work that is divided over the day and for legitimate reasons. Adolescents must also receive a corresponding compensatory rest, and at the latest so that they receive two consecutive days off every fourteen days.

For Consideration For Youths Under 18 Years of Age

  • Learn about the dangers that can arise in your workplace. You may not be allowed to work in certain situations. This could be, for example, working on machinery or handling dangerous substances
  • Listen to your body. If you notice any changes such as back pain or headaches, it is good to examine if something in the work environment is affecting your well-being.
  • Get instructions on proper body exertion, how to adjust the chair or work desk or what kind of lighting is best.
  • Many accidents at work are due to disorder. Participate in keeping things tidy and clean up after yourself
  • Familiarize yourself with all the safety rules and guidelines that apply in the workplace, and learn to follow them. Having youths working on certain machines and inn certain working conditions is not permitted
  • Use the personal protective equipment that must be used in your work
  • Respect your colleagues and cultivate positive communication
  • Do not hesitate to seek the help of your colleagues who are more experienced in solving the tasks
  • Do not tamper with machines and equipment that you do not know how to work
  • Make sure the work equipment you use is in working order If this is not the case then let your supervisor, safety representative, or security guard know
  • Remember to get help from others or use a lifting equipment if you need to carry or move heavy objects between places
  • If there are no lifting equipment, keep your back straight and bend at the knees when lifting. Hold the load close to your body
  • Keep track of where the emergency button or power button is on the equipment you need to use
  • Never use electrical appliances or extension cords if the cable insulation is broken or torn. Let your supervisor know if these things are not in working order
  • Be careful with open flames
  • Learn about the location of fire extinguishers and how to use them
  • Try to get enough sleep because a well-rested employee has better concentration and a lower risk of accidents and mishaps

Frequently Asked Questions

Fjölskyldufyrirtæki telst vera fyrirtæki sem er í eigu einstaklinga eða einstaklings sem er skyldur eða mægður ungmenni í beinan legg eða annan legg til hliðar eða tengdur því með sama hætti vegna ættleiðingar. Til fjölskyldufyrirtækja telst þá til dæmis fyrirtæki foreldra, ömmu og afa og systkina foreldra.

Miðað er við afmælisdag.

Börn mega lyfta 8-10 kílóum og unglingar 12 kílóum.

  • Barn merkir einstakling undir 15 ára aldri, eða einstakling sem er í skyldunámi.
  • Unglingur merkir einstakling sem hefur náð 15 ára aldri, en er undir 18 ára aldri og ekki lengur í skyldunámi.

Lög um aðbúnað, hollustuhætti og öryggi á vinnustöðum og reglugerð um vinnu barna og unglinga en sú reglugerð er sett með stoð í fyrrnefndum lögum.