Many employers are now looking at the recruitment of young workers as a viable answer to their business needs. Our Health & Safety Consultant, Paul Hobday explains the increased legal responsibility that employers must meet when employing young people
A young person is defined as anyone under the age of 18, while a child is considered to be anyone under the minimum school leaving age (the oldest being 16 years, 10 months). Before a young person begins their employment, companies must assess any risks they may be exposed to.
Employers must take into account the young person’s inexperience, lack of awareness and immaturity. This is far from the end of companies’ legal responsibilities, companies must ensure young people are limited to eight working hours a day and 40 hours a week.
Young people are legally required to take 12 hours rest between each working day and two days of rest every week. They must also take a rest break of 30 minutes when working over 4.5 hours. Additionally, young people cannot work between 10pm-6am or 11pm-7am unless there are special circumstances, for example, if they are an actor on a film set, night filming is required and no adult can do the job in their place.
The restrictions are not just limited to time. The regulations are clear that young people must not do work which cannot be adapted to meet any physical or mental impairments, or activity that exposes them to toxic substances. Neither can young people do any work that involves high-risk circumstances or procedures such as operating machinery or using harmful chemicals. Exceptions can only be made if the young employees are on a training course or have been trained, they have the necessary maturity and competence and they are supervised by a competent person.
Naturally, the law becomes far stricter when it comes to the employment of children, who must never do any of the above activities whether they are employed or on work experience. Should companies have any work that they deem suitable for children, the business must notify the local authority of their employment. The minimum age that a child can start work is 13 and local authorities can make by-laws to increase this in certain types of premises, but regardless, they will require the employer to obtain parental consent before issuing a child with an employment permit.
Local authority by-laws can also restrict the type of work, start and finish times, and maximum number of hours that a child can work. Children are forbidden to work in industrial undertakings such as factories or construction sites unless they are on work experience and approved by Local Education Authority.
School work experience throws up several further issues. A child on work experience is still legally classed as an employee regardless of their status as a student, and before allowing children to go on work experience, schools will generally ask to see your risk assessment and inspect your workplace.
DO YOU HAVE A QUERY? CALL NOW ON 08450 50 40 60