Following concerns over staff shortages, the MA asked readers if they would consider hiring under 18s in their pub as a way to combat this, despite it being somewhat more difficult than hiring over 18s from a legal point of view.
A massive 70% of voters (19 votes) said they would hire under 18s with 15% (4 votes) having said potentially and only 15% (4 votes) said they would not hire someone under 18 in their pub.
Heath Ball, licensee of the Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, North London, said: “We've had some great experiences in employing under-18s, several of whom have gone on to forge careers with us and one who is now a manager of a £1m-plus turnover site and working towards a management degree.
“As an employer in the hospitality industry, there are two great benefits: we get to demonstrate what a great industry this is and at the same time, the youngsters equally see how demanding the public can be.
“From the employees’ point of view, they get to understand the industry, learn about food and the great range of wines and beers available, this really equips them for a more fulfilling social life and teaches them how to eat and drink out properly.”
In 2019 there were 1.762bn people employed in the hospitality sector and 620,000 of those were young people aged 16 to 24.
Between Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, hospitality has experienced a surge in vacancies recently and in the three months to October 2021 the sector recorded 1.17m empty roles, the second highest recorded number.
Licensing law to consider
The Licensing Act 2003 states under 18s are not allowed to physically dispense alcohol or put drinks orders together behind the bar, unless supervised by an adult.
However, they can take orders and deliver alcoholic drinks for consumption with a meal, unless the local authorities by-laws state otherwise, but each individual sale of alcohol would need to be approved by a staff member aged over 18 as well as any age verifications.
Another consideration is the number of hours, and when those hours are, under 18s can work.
Dave Davies, licensee of the Drunken Dragon pub in Bicknacre, Essex, said: “We have employed under-18s in the restaurant side of our pub ever since we opened.
“The biggest issue we've found is many of them leave once they get a car and realise their friends are all having a social life elsewhere, there's a real staffing crisis within the sector right now and it's hard to find reliable people to fill roles.”