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Give parents back responsibility for their children and stop penalising employers

Comment 5th July 2010

To give parents responsibility for their school-age children with regard to part-time employment, to stop hampering small businesses and to get rid of the army of welfare staff employed to print work permits for children. The cause of of all this is the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 Sections 18 (2) and 20 (2). It gives education authorities sweeping rights over whether or not children can engage in part-time work and what types of work children can do. It takes away parental responsibility and imposes the nanny state by threatening businesses with fines. As with many good ideas for ensuring the welfare of children, this Act goes too far in taking away parental responsibility and imposing the nanny state, to the point where parents, children and employers are left asking why? Why for instance are children not allowed to work for logner than two hours in part-time employment on Sundays – even during the school holidrays. It is a complete nonsense.

Why does this matter?

This is important for a number of reasons.

1. The current 1933 act gives sweeping powers to the new breed of nanny state employees in the education service because you can alway argue children's walfare is at stake.

2. It would save money by slimming down the welfare teams to concentrate on prioritiy areas.

3. It would give parents back responsibility for their children. Is the state really best placed to decide whether or not your child can work for two hours or three hours on a Sunday?

4. The employment of young people of school age is a two-way street, it helps small employers that could not otherwise afford to employ adult works. At the same time it forms part of a child's education and introduction to the workplace as well as giving them the opportunity to earn spending money.

5. The fixed school age is going to rise from 16 to 18. If this Act is going to apply it will become even more untenable. Are we really going to say that a young person saving for university is not going to be allowed to work for longer than two hours on a Sunday, the one day of the week on which they are free to work and the one day when the demand for their service is the greatest by small businesses.

6. Some of the provisions applied by education authorities leave many scratching their heads. Why for instance are young people not allowed to work in kitchens to do portering duties or to make tea and coffee? It's just another example of well-meaning legislation that is putting unnecessary strains on small businesses.

7. It would send out the message that the state doesn't know best and that parental responsibility should not be ridden over. I am not arguing that the welfare of children is not important but by applying the provisions of this act to such minor areas brings it into disrepute. This act should be used counter the rare cases of exploitation not to put unnecessary prohibitions on the vast majority of sensible parents and employers.

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