The Council are urging local businesses across the Bath area to ensure summer holiday jobs they offer for teenagers are above board and legal.
Holiday and other part-time jobs are a great way for young people to earn money and get work experience – as long as they are working legally.
The Council is campaigning to raise awareness among employers, parents and young people that 13-16 year olds must have a permit to work.
Without one, not only is the employer breaking the law, but the young person will not be covered by their insurance.
Cllr Dine Romero, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Youth (LibDem, Southdown) said: “Lots of children work part-time or during the holidays – particularly in the catering trade, in hairdressing salons and also delivering newspapers.
“This can be a really positive experience for everyone but it is our job to make sure that children are safe in the workplace. It is also vital that they still have enough time for their school work as well as rest and relaxation.
“The children’s employment law aims to protect both young people and their employers. This is a really simple process – all employers have to do is fill out a form and send it in to the Council.”
The campaign has been given the backing of local businesses and organisations including McColls newsagents in Keynsham; Mercy in Action, Bath and Writhlington Sports and Leisure Centre.
McColls employs around 11 teenagers at any one time to do paper rounds.
Shop manager Ben Sims says it works out well for the business and the teenagers: “For the young people it gives them a really solid understanding of working life, how a business is run and a great foot in the door for the future. From us they get references as well as some wages.
“Having the working permits is really important to us. The youngest ones working for us are only 13 and that is still quite a tender age to be working. Some of them do their rounds six days a week so everyone wants to know that we’re taking care of them while they’re doing it. It also gives their parents peace of mind.
“Sorting out the permits is really simple. I’ve always found them very helpful in any dealings with the council on this, no problems at all.”
Bath charity Mercy in Action has employed 91 children aged between 13 and 16 over the last two years, helping the charity in their shops as voluntary retail assistants.
Ann Morley-Jones, area manager, said it is a good experience for everyone: “We feel it needs to be a two-way relationship so we’ve made sure we have suitable training structures in place.
“They volunteer for us but we need to give something back so we help them with their CVs, interview techniques and university applications. They go away with the same training as our paid employees.
“We feel this gives them a real idea of the workplace – from the importance of turning up on time to learning how to present themselves.”
Sue Wedekind, the charity’s administrator, added: “Our charity supports children in the Philippines so we want to ensure that any children we work with here are safeguarded. Getting the admin sorted involves a bit of paperwork at the start but once you’ve got it in place you’re away.”
Writhlington Sports and Leisure Centre employs around 20 teenagers as assistant sports coaches, most are aged 14 or 15.
Fiona Clark, operations manager, explained that most are teenagers who have attended gymnastics or tennis classes at the centre since they were young children and have shown the potential to become good coaches.
“We see it as a form of mentoring. These are talented young people who work with our coaches as voluntary assistants during sessions for younger children. The coaches trust them as they are familiar with their abilities.
“The children look up to them and respond really well to them. But it doesn’t stop there – many of our volunteers have shown such a good work ethic that we’ve then funded their coaching qualifications. We are able to train them to coach in the way that fits with our ethos. Some of them are now full-time paid coaches, so it’s a great arrangement for everyone.
“Having the licence is important because it means that everyone is safe. The parents are reassured that this is a professional establishment and not the kind of place where a child could be exploited. Any children employed here as volunteers really benefit from the work that they do.”
Rules on the type of work 13-16 year olds are permitted to do and the hours they can work, both during term and holiday time, are clearly outlined on the Council’ website – www.bathnes.gov.uk/holidayjobs – where you can also find a dowloadable application form.
You can also contact the Council via email, CMES@bathnes.gov.uk or phone 01225 394241 for more information.