Employing young people in your business

12/03/21

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Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic. From lost job opportunities, disruption to their education, and fewer apprenticeships to go round…they need all the help they can get with their futures.


The government’s Kickstarter scheme will hopefully be able to commence when lockdown and social distancing regulations lift, which will go some way to helping the next generation. Open to 16-24-year-olds, the scheme will give young people relevant skills and practical experience of the workplace.


There’s likely to be plenty of young adults who will relish the opportunities the Kickstarter scheme will bring—perhaps because further education and academia is not their thing…not everyone sees university as the only route to a successful career.


As an employer, there are things you need to know, however, if you’re considering employing someone under the age of 18.


Legalities

There are laws, such as The Children and Young Persons’ Act 1933 and The Working Time Regulations 1998, that limit the number of hours young people are allowed to work, and the kinds of tasks they’re permitted to carry out. An employer with five or more employees must carry out an assessment for any young people they hire that assesses the specific risks such legislative acts encapsulate.


People under the age of 18 cannot carry out work where their age prohibits them as a customer; for example, in casinos and betting shops. They’re also prohibited to sell alcohol, though they can scan such drinks through a till under the supervision of an adult over 18.

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Taking care of your young charges

It’s perhaps understandable that a young person can’t physically do the same work as someone twice their age; however, it’s also worth remembering that they may not have the same level of maturity or experience of a professional environment, compared with those who have been working a couple of decades or longer.


On a safeguarding level, employers must also consider who the young people will be working alongside. If they are to work exclusively with one specific colleague, this employee may need to undergo an enhanced DBS check that will confirm whether they can work with children.


Employers should commit to the care of their young workers and ensure colleagues, particularly managers and supervisors, do not exploit any of their vulnerabilities and take advantage. That said, whilst some adjustments may need to be made for young workers, they shouldn’t be discriminated against in terms of promotion, the type of work allocated, etc.


There are many stories out there surrounding child exploitation, as well as of business owners employing young people simply because they’re not required to pay them as much as an employee over 18. As you can see, employing a young person should result in more care and protection from an employer, not less.


That said, it’s up to everyone to ensure fairness prevails, as young people may not know their rights or have any other experience of the workplace against which to compare their treatment. It’s not a rite of passage that a youngster’s first experience of work must be poor or intolerable—that’s what our laws aim to prevent. And whilst their more mature colleagues could likely provide examples of discrimination or poor treatment from when they joined the workplace, it’s not something any of us should be proud about.


Value and protect the next generation of workers!

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