Keeping Youngsters Safe at Work this Christmas

As the festive period draws ever closer many teenagers are considering a Christmas job to help earn some extra money, but what exactly are their entitlements? While there is a place for teenagers in the workplace employers must not use them as a means to cheap labour. Young people can be extremely vulnerable when it comes to employment and may be easily exploited by employers if they don’t know their rights. People under the age of 18 are covered by a number of additional regulations, to those aged over 18, which are designed to protect them from employers who may take advantage of them. There are heavy restrictions on the types of jobs which youngsters can do and they can only work once they reach the age of 13 and this is only part-time – except for certain acting and modelling jobs. The regulations relating to child employment also aim to prevent a job from affecting a child’s health and education, so the hours which a child can work are carefully calculated. No child should work during school hours or between 7pm and 7am and for no more than two hours on a school day or Sunday, or no more than 12 hours in any week during term-time. They must receive a minimum two week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year. The main reason for many young people wanting to take a part-time job is to earn some additional money to supplement their pocket money – so what exactly can they expect to be paid? Workers aged 16 to 17 years are entitled to earn at least £3.57 per hour, while the minimum wage for people aged 18 to 21 is £4.83 per hour. Parents and young people should be aware that there is no minimum wage protection for children aged under 16. Before a child starts work at any organisation the employer must have successfully applied for an employment permit, which is issued by the council’s Education Welfare Office. This will register the child so they are eligible to work and the forms must also be signed by their parents/carers. The permits aim to ensure that child employees remain safe at work and are covered by the appropriate insurance policies. Any parent whose child is considering a part-time job over Christmas should visit www.direct.gov.uk for full details of the laws and regulations relating to child employment. Contact DAWN Advice for free support and advice on a range of employment law issues, including the rights of child employees, on 01670 785 500 or visit www.dawnadvice.org.uk Liz Chadwick is the Chief Executive of DAWN Advice, a Northumberland-based social enterprise which offers free, confidential and impartial advice on a number of legal matters including debt, housing, employment, welfare benefits and family law.

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