Hospitality employers have been warned not to exploit young people working cheaply or for free to fill gaps caused by a proposed ban on UK staff working more than 48 hours a week.
The UK currently has an opt-out to the Working Time Directive, allowing workers to work more than 48 hours if they wish, but members of the European Parliament will vote in mid-December on whether to scrap it.
The Lancaster Landmark Hotel Group has admitted that, if the opt-out is scrapped, it would use work experience placements to make up the hours currently worked as overtime by permanent employees.
Acting HR director Ciara Hassan said many of the chain's 800 employees chose to work longer than the Directive's 48-hour average working week limit.
"We are linking up with colleges to get more work experience people in to cover menial kitchen tasks, to help cope with demand," she told Caterersearch sister website PersonnelToday.com
But the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said that, while work experience was a useful tool, it should be planned and co-ordinated with colleges and be part of ongoing training and development schemes.
"Just throwing college students in at the deep end - without any training - to make up numbers is not the answer," a BHA spokesman warned.
Jan Marshall, HR director at the London Marriott hotel, questioned how useful work experience people would be to employers.
"You can't rely on them - they shouldn't be left unsupervised and you couldn't let them handle money," she said. "Perhaps it's more hassle than its worth."
By Daniel Thomas
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