Top tips on employing young people at your pub

The right staff: young employees can benefit your business hugely (credit: getty/monkeybusinessimages)
The right staff: young employees can benefit your business hugely (credit: getty/monkeybusinessimages)

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Finding the right employees for your business can be difficult.

Resultantly many operators may consider employing young people to gain access to a broader talent pool.

Young people have the potential to be a great asset to your business, however there are a number of licensing restrictions that you should bear in mind before employing young people.

See below our top tips for hiring under-18s in your licensed premises.

Familiarise yourself with age restrictions on young people in the workplace

As a general rule, the youngest age a child can work part time is 14, however, this rule can be relaxed by local authority by-laws to allow a 13-year-old to be employed. Children can only start working full time once they have reached the minimum school leaving age.

There are specific rules relating to working time and the scope of employment for under-16s (children), which may prevent you from being able to employ children on your premises. There are specific break times and working hours that must be adhered to and different rules relating to work during term time and school holidays.

As their employer, you are responsible to ensure that a young person’s employment does not harm their health, safety and development nor their attendance at school and participation in work experience.

Be aware of what young people can, and cannot, do on your premises

The Licensing Act does not allow a young person under the age of 18 to sell alcohol unless the individual sale has been specifically approved by a responsible person. In practice, this means you will always need an adult working on shift with the under-18 to approve each and every sale made by them.

This position differs to adult staff who can be given a general one-off authorisation, for example by being named on the bar staff authorisation notice.

Know the different rules for premises or areas set aside for dining

The Licensing Act allows under-18s to take orders and deliver alcoholic drinks in premises, or part of a premises, set aside and reserved for dining.

If you operate a dining only premises, or you have an area set aside for dining with a separate dispense bar, the law does not technically prevent a young person from dispensing drinks or putting drinks together behind the bar. However, from a risk management point of view you should ensure the young person is supervised and sufficient training has been given.

Conversely, where there is only one main bar serving both the main premises and area set aside for dining, a young person would not be allowed to physically dispense alcohol nor put the drinks order together unless the individual sale is specifically approved by a responsible person.

Read up on your local by-laws

Local councils are permitted to issue by-laws restricting how and when children of school age can be employed. You may find for example that children are not permitted to work without an employment permit.

You should therefore check with your local council to see if such by-laws are in force in your area.

Consider the child’s experience and maturity

As an employer you have a legal responsibility to ensure the child is not exposed to risk due to their lack of experience, maturity or lack of awareness of risk.

As with all your staff, ensure young workers receive sufficient training and are familiar with their obligations under the Licensing Act. Consider if any additional safeguards need to be put in place to reflect lesser experience and maturity.


Some of the technicalities in this area can be confusing but do not fret. If you have any queries or concerns get in touch with one of our licensing solicitors, we would be more than happy to help.

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