Entering full-time work

The age at which a child can enter the labour market is the age when children have the right to work and exercise professional activities. Different requirements apply, especially depending on the nature of the work (full-time or part-time).

The following maps refers to the age requirements for a full-time job.

View full dataset in data explorer.

Key aspects

  • The age at which children can enter the labour market on a full-time basis ranges from the age of 15 years to the age of 18 years. In eleven Member States, the age threshold is linked to the age of completion of compulsory education.
  • In thirteen Members States (France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), the age limit is set at the age of 16 years. In the case of Malta, this is one year after compulsory education ends.
  • In thirteen Member States (Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia) the age limit is 15 years.
  • In Belgium and Bulgaria, the age requirement is 18 years. In the case of Bulgaria, this is two years after compulsory education ends.

The data explorer also provides information on the age at which children can enter the labour market on a part-time basis, with 13 years being the youngest age possible. However, under certain conditions, younger children may be allowed to work in specific areas, such as cultural, artistic or athletic activities. Data on the age at which children are allowed to establish and conduct a business are also available, which in the majority of Member States is 18 years of age.