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PA podcast: employing young people with Natasha Beck

Employing young people in pubs, bars and restaurants

In this episode, licensing Associate Solicitor, Natasha Beck, discusses employing young people in pubs, bars and restaurants, whether they can serve alcohol and if there are any restrictions on the number of hours that they can work.

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Find the transcript below:


Hello, and welcome back to the Poppleston Allen podcast where we help you and me understand a little more about licencing. Today, I’m joined by Natasha Beck, who is an associate solicitor in our Nottingham office, and she is here today to talk about employing young people in pubs, bars and restaurants.

How are you today, Natasha?



I’m good thank you Dom, how are you?



I’m very good thank you, first time on the podcast, how are you feeling?



All good. Thank you.




So anyway, as we know, there is currently a staffing crisis engulfing the hospitality industry, and this might lead to operators looking to capitalise on younger workers, for example, school leavers. But can operators actually employ under 18s at their premises?



The simple answer to that Dom is yes, they can. Any child aged 14 or over can be employed to do light work. The operators need to ensure that it’s not harmful to their safety, health and development, or to their attendance at school or participation in any work experience.

Generally due to the type of work and the restrictions on children working in licenced premises, children under 16 tend to work in kitchens and back of house areas, rather than any front of house or bar areas.

It is also important to note that local bylaws need to be considered when employing young people, so these should be looked at as well.



Yes, as you said, young people can work at licenced premises, but are they actually allowed to serve alcohol at these premises? Because that could be a problem.



Yes, it could. The Licencing Act does not allow under 18s to sell alcohol unless the sale is specifically approved by an adult. So, whilst it is possible for an under 18 to work behind a bar, it might cause complications with the sale needing to be authorised.

For example, it could be easier in a supermarket where not every sale includes alcohol, but in a bar where the majority of sales will include alcohol, it could become more time consuming.



Yeah, so you talked about behind the bar sales being difficult if you have to authorise every sale. But is this different in specific areas at the premises so, for example, where people are dining rather than just come to the bar and ordering drinks.



Yes, so if the premises is strictly for dining or there’s a specific area set aside for dining, then the Licencing Act does allow under 18s to work in the premises, or that part of the premises set aside for dining, to take orders and deliver the alcoholic drinks for consumption with a meal.

Again, it is sensible to check with your local authority for any local bylaws relating to age restrictions on this. It’s also important to remember that that individual member of staff would still be responsible for carrying out age verification checks where appropriate, to ensure that no underage sales take place and so, you would need to ensure, as the operator, that they have the maturity and the necessary training to be able to do that.

Technically, they would not be allowed to physically dispense the alcohol or put drinks orders together behind the main bar, again, unless supervised by the adult, although the law does not prohibit them from dispensing or putting together drinks at a separate bar If it is within the restaurant area. Again, I would suggest that you need to risk manage this and make sure that they have sufficient training and supervision if they’re going to be left to do this by themselves.



Yeah. So, are there any restrictions on the number of hours that someone under 18 can work in a pub, bar or restaurant?



Yes, there are, and the number of hours that can be worked is different for both a child worker or a young worker. To differentiate between those, a child worker is someone aged 14 to 16 and a young worker is someone 16 to 17.

For child workers, there are more restrictions and specific break times and working hours which must be adhered to. And there’s also different hours restrictions, depending on whether it’s term time and they’re in school or it’s the school holidays.

For young workers, The times that they can work are actually increased and there are fewer limits on breaks and hours and things like that. I’m not going to go into detail of the hours that each individual can work here, but they are available on the gov.uk website and again, throughout all of this if you’re employing young people, you should check for any local bylaws. An example of where this may become problematic is some local authorities would require the individual child to have a employment permit before they are permitted to work.



Thank you for that, Natasha. And remember that everything in licencing isn’t as simple as it appears, and it can be important to take professional advice. So, if you want to contact Natasha directly. You can email her at n.beck@popall.co.uk or you can head to our website popall.co.uk, where you can find guides about employing under 18s and you can also find Natasha’s phone number to contact her directly. Thank you very much for listening.

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