Embarking on a journey to work abroad is an exciting prospect for many young individuals seeking diverse experiences and professional growth. However, the ability of minors to secure a work permit for foreign workers depends on regulations and restrictions that vary from nation to nation. 

In this article, we explore the rules governing temporary employment for young non-EU foreigners in several EU countries. 


Minor Workers in EU: An Overview 


As a general rule, minors under the age of 15 cannot engage in work activities in the EU. However, exceptions exist for specific activities such as cultural or artistic pursuits, contingent upon prior authorization. 

Additionally, those aged 14 to 15 may engage in training activities or undertake light work under certain conditions.

For employers, it is mandatory to have certain safety measures in place. Certain categories of work are restricted for young workers, such as exposure to hazardous substances, and involvement in high-risk processes.

All young workers are entitled to a minimum 30-minute break for work exceeding 4.5 hours. Additionally, during compulsory full-time schooling, a prescribed work-free period is mandated during school holidays.

These regulations collectively aim to ensure the safety, well-being, and conducive working conditions for young individuals in the professional sphere.


Work Permit for Foreign Workers: Country-Specific Restrictions for Minors


Below you will discover the basic rules for foreign youth employment across EU countries. Understanding these regulations is a pivotal point for navigating work opportunities effectively.




Danish regulations restrict individuals under 18 from certain hazardous work, with stringent rules on working hours during school days. These rules aim to balance education and employment. Children under 13 can only be involved in cultural and artistic activities. 




Belgium permits individuals to start working from the age of 16. However, non-EU citizens must hold a work permit for foreign workers. 




Estonia generally allows work from the age of 15, with specific conditions for employment contracts with minors.




In Bulgaria, individuals under 16 cannot be employed. For persons who have not reached 18 years of age, employers must meet specific requirements to ensure a safe work environment. The Labor Code highlights the rules for issuing work permits to minors. It also highlights special provisions for artistic activities for those under 15.


United Kingdom


While EU nationals face no restrictions, non-EU nationals need a work permit for foreign workers. Young people can commence work from the age of 13, albeit with certain limitations. 




Germany’s laws safeguard children under 13, restricting opportunities for minors based on their age.




In Ireland, non-EU citizens require a work permit for foreign workers. For minors between 14 and 15 years old, only light work is permitted. 




Lithuania’s Labor Code allows children aged 14 to 16 to engage in light work under certain conditions, ensuring it doesn’t compromise safety, health, or education.




In France, non-EU individuals aged 16-18 are allowed to engage in work activities provided that they obtain a work permit for foreign workers in advance. Under specific circumstances, foreigners below the age of 16 who may be granted a temporary work permit, especially for purposes such as apprenticeships.




In Finland, individuals aged 14 and above can participate in temporary work for up to six months, usually scheduled during school holidays.




Minors who are at least 15 can start working, but not before finishing compulsory school. If they are still in school, they can only engage in cultural, sports, or promotional activities. The employer can ask for permission from the Labor Inspectorate, with specified hours and conditions. 




The Netherlands requires a work permit for foreign workers to work legally. Young people aged 13 and above can only engage in light work.




In Italy, the minimum employment age is 15, rising to 16 in specific cases. Foreign teenagers can also gain experience by engaging in volunteer work. 




Croatia requires foreigners to obtain a stay and work permit. The country prohibits employment for those under 15. Additionally, the Croatian Government places restrictions on minors attending full-time elementary schooling.




Latvia prohibits permanent work for children under 15 years old. This rule also applies to minors between 15 and 18 years old who are attending school. 


Czech Republic


Non-EU nationals can work with a work permit and visa. Minors can start working at 15, and in special cases, at 14.




Starting from 13, children can do certain light work for up to 12 hours per week. Non-EU citizens require a work permit for foreign workers. 




In Luxembourg, minors who are at least 15 years old and attend school can work for a maximum of two months during school vacations.




In Austria, minors aged 15 and above can work during vacations. Non-EU nationals need a work permit for foreign workers. 




Poland strictly prohibits the long-term employment of children under 16. The Polish Labor Code, specifically Division 9, determines the permissible forms of employment for minors. The Labor Code also details working hours, examinations, and rest periods. 




Minors need to be at least 16 years old to engage in work activities in Portugal. 




In Spain, individuals under 16 cannot legally work, and those between 16 and 18 need parental or legal guardian permission.




Hungary allows seasonal work for individuals aged 16 and above. However, non-EU citizens must hold a seasonal work permit. 




In Cyprus, foreigners can engage in work activities starting at the age of 18.




Slovenia requires non-EU citizens under the age of 18 to hold a work permit for foreign workers. Employment contracts can be signed only by those 15 and above.

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