Top tips: the logistics of employing under-18s

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Permission needed: young staff can sell alcohol
Permission needed: young staff can sell alcohol

Related tags: Children, Public house, Alcoholic beverage, Beer

Staffing in the UK hospitality industry can be problematic for operators, particularly at present.

We are often asked by clients whether they can employ staff under the age of 18 (young people) in premises licensed to sell alcohol. There are several areas of law that apply to the employment of young people, but here are some tips on how to comply with the licensing laws:

Young people can work in restaurants and pubs collecting glasses, taking orders and clearing tables

Young people can also work behind a bar or a till selling alcoholic drinks. However, in order to do so each individual sale must be specifically approved by a ‘responsible person’. A responsible person can be any one of: the premises licence holder (PLH), the designated premises supervisor (DPS) or anyone aged 18 or over who has been authorised by the PLH or the DPS to authorise sales of alcohol by young people

In practice, this means that every single sale must be authorised by a responsible person. You cannot give a ‘blanket’ authorisation for the entirety of a shift or term of employment. The most common example of this is in supermarkets, when a cashier under the age of 18 has to call a responsible person to authorise every sale of alcohol

The only exception to this is in the case of ‘restaurants’. Restaurants are clearly defined for this purpose within the legislation but, in summary, it means a premises or part of a premises that sells alcohol exclusively to customers taking a table meal

With alcohol sale authorisations in mind, operators should also be aware of the premises licence mandatory condition that every sale of alcohol – including by staff aged 18 or over – must be made or authorised by a person who holds a personal licence

The authorisation for staff aged 18 or over does not have to be specific for every sale. We recommend keeping a single written authorisation form listing all staff authorised to sell alcohol. The form can be signed by the DPS or another personal licence holder and kept on-site

It is crucial to note that under separate employment law there are special working time limits and other rules that apply to young people. There may also be local bylaws restricting the employment of children in your area. Operators should seek professional advice if they have any concerns about employing young people.

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

Related topics: Legislation

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