Spot checks to curb under-age working

MARK NICHOLLS Spot checks are set to be carried out on firms across Norfolk to deter companies from employing children and young people illegally.

MARK NICHOLLS

Spot checks are set to be carried out on firms across Norfolk to deter companies from employing children and young people illegally.

Staff from Norfolk County Council children's services attendance team plan to make more than 600 random visits to employers across the county over the six-week summer break, starting on Monday. They will carry out an intensive employment survey to make sure children and young people up to 16 are working legally and safely.

Tony Brown, the council's child employment officer, said: "We take a firm stance on this. The main purpose of the campaign is to give out information and advice, but where businesses are breaking the rules, action will be taken. Some firms might be aware that they're flouting the law, but often it's a case of not realising exactly what the law is."

All employers of children and young people up to 16 must have applied for work permits from the council. Without it, they can be breaking the law and might not even be properly insured. As in previous years, council staff will be liaising with the health and safety executive and district council environmental health officers, if specific issues or concerns arise. Employers without work permits for children and young people aged 16 and under will be given seven days to officially inform the county council and apply for permits.

The campaign will cover locations throughout the county, and won't be restricted to specific industries.

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Mr Brown said: "Obviously there are some industries like tourism and retail which will form part of our work, but it will be far wider than that. There are areas where children are allowed to work, serving food or working in a shop, but there are clear rules about the number of hours, and there are definitely places where they should not be working, for example, in cinemas or commercial kitchens - and no one under 13 should be working at all."

The council has a database of children registered for employment and will be using it to run checks. Where necessary, employers will be provided with up-to-date advice on the legislation and given application forms and information leaflets.

Employers, parents, children and young people can go to www.norfolk.gov.uk then log into child employment for more information, call Tony Brown on 01953 450504 or email childemployment@norfolk.gov.uk