In association with Poppleston Allen

Need to know: children in pubs

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

The questions of whether children can work in licensed premises or indeed be in those premises as a customer are ones that sometimes cause confusion and therefore may benefit from some clarification.

The general principle is that children are permitted to work in pubs subject to checking with the relevant local authority there is no by-law in place that prohibits this.

The only issue that arises in licensing terms is when they are involved in the sale of alcohol.

There is no problem in this regard if they are working in a restaurant or in an area of a pub, for example, which is specifically set aside for the consumption of alcohol in the company of a meal.

In any drink-led premises or area of premises, the situation is different and each individual sale made by the person under the age of 18 must be specifically authorised by a responsible person ie, someone who is over the age of 18 and has been properly trained in respect of the legal responsibilities associated with the sale of alcohol.

In relation to the question of whether children may be present as customers on licensed premises, there are some general principles that apply but may be overridden by specific conditions on the premises licence in question.

The general principles apply only to unaccompanied customers aged under 16.

In premises where the sale of alcohol is permitted, unaccompanied under-16s are permitted to be on the premises except between 12midnight and 5am. This would apply, for example, to a restaurant.

Where the premises is drink-led ie, primarily used for the sale of alcohol (for example, a pub that does not serve food) then they are not permitted on the premises at all.

Those general principles may be further overridden by specific conditions on the premises licence.

Many pubs do a decent food trade during the day and, therefore, it may be argued to be non-drink-led and, as such, there might be an argument to say that unaccompanied under-16s would be permitted in the premises until midnight. That could be overwritten by a condition on the licence that prohibits unaccompanied under-16s from, say 7pm or 9pm, if responsible authorities felt the nature of the premises changed during the course of the early or mid-evening such that it would be an inappropriate environment for children.

As always, it is important to be aware of the general legal position as well as the specific conditions on any licence. Breach of either the general principles or of any specific condition can lead to potential prosecution through the courts and, equally, a review of the premises licence with a range of consequences including in the worst cases, revocation.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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