Back to school! ACR offers advice on summer holiday employment

Karen Dykes, recruitment partner here at Anne Corder Recruitment, was recently asked to offer advice to employers on work experience and placements for 16-year olds over the summer holidays. Originally featured in the Chamber of Commerce, Connect, magazine, have a read of Karen’s Q&A below:

WITH the summer holidays not too far away, and many GCSE students soon to finish their exams – what is the law surrounding the employment of 16 years olds in my business short-term.

Q: I am anticipating an increased level of interest from students and school-leavers looking for summer holiday position with my company/sending in their CV. What are the first things I need to think about?

Work experience is hugely valuable to those at the very start of their career, support and guidance received can certainly shape a young person’s attitude to work. Businesses can also benefit from renewed enthusiasm and ideas that they can bring to a business. 

The first thing to think about is whether you are able to support a student by offering them a great work experience. This includes induction and training, these all take time and resource so be clear that this isn’t necessarily a quick fix or extra pair of hands to cover a busy period or staff holiday. Do you have someone within your organisation who can act as a mentor / point of contact? What tasks will be suitable and add value to your organisation? What duration of placement and working hours will benefit your business? Do you have a suitable work space and equipment available?  This should give you some clarity as to whether you are able to offer a placement.     

Q: I am already considering employing a 16-year-old school leaver (not an apprentice) for a short time over the summer, are there any special rules/considerations about employing someone so young?

When employing young workers, organisations should implement best practice for a variety of reasons. Young workers may be in scope for some additional or different rights to protect them at work. This includes the hours that they work, rest breaks that they take and minimum pay rates that may be applicable.  ACAS is a reliable source of up to date information so be sure to check the latest regulations ahead of your young worker joining you. Discuss the information with them and document it in a formal contract whilst being sure to diary milestone birthdays when applicable regulations are likely to change.      

Q: What are the main employment law points about having 16 year-olds in the workplace, and what are is the situation regarding legal working hours?

Young workers may be at greater risk of being involved in accidents as they may not be as aware of potential hazards that relate to your industry or workplace as they are new to the workforce. You can minimise risk by completing a thorough induction and training plan.  On your young workers first day a tour of the workplace is a great icebreaker to calm first day nerves and can be used as a ‘walk and talk’ opportunity to highlight particular safety concerns  

Q: How do I protect personal data relating to my company, my current staff and my clients when employing a 16-year-old.

Your contract with the young worker should detail protection of data – General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – that came into force in 2018. Your company handbook and company policies are a great point of reference and should form part of the induction process.  Your policies should detail boundaries around the use of mobile phones and social media, sickness reporting procedures etc.