by Christina Golding
A REPORT revealing that thousands of British children are working illegally in hotels and catering has been presented to the Government by children's charities.
The Department of Health is examining the study, Children and Work in the UK, in preparation for a review next year. The report states that four out of five of the 1.4 million school-age children working in their spare time are working illegally, with a high percentage in hotels, restaurants and cafés.
Average hourly rates of pay were £1.60, and many were found to work in areas that are prohibited for children, such as the preparation of food.
The report will compound findings by the Schools Health Education Unit which warned that children's health and homework suffer because of excessive hours worked (Caterer, 19 February, page 6).
The British Hospitality Association agreed that reform may be needed on hours but not necessarily on pay. "If children are prepared to work for £1.60 it's not a problem, if the hours are limited and it's not in school time," said deputy chief executive Martin Couchman.