Childcare and children at work
New mothers and fathers
Women who are expecting a baby have a legal right to time off work
for antenatal care. They are also entitled to at least 26 weeks'
maternity leave. These rights apply to full-time and part-time workers
and it makes no difference how long the woman has worked for her
employer. It is, however, important to follow the correct procedures
and to give the employer enough notice about taking maternity leave.
Some women may also be entitled to maternity pay but this depends on
how long they have been working for their employer.
Fathers who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks are
entitled to paternity leave, which provides up to two weeks' time off
from work, with pay, when the child is born. It is important to tell
your employer well in advance.
You can get advice and more information on maternity and paternity
matters from the personnel officer at work, your trade union
representative, your local Citizens Advice Bureau, the Citizens Advice
Bureau website www.adviceguide.org.uk or the government website www.direct.gov.uk .
It is Government policy to help people with childcare
responsibilities to take up work. Some employers can help with this.
Hours and time for children at work
In the UK there are strict laws to protect children from
exploitation and to make sure that work does not get in the way of
their education. The earliest legal age for children to do paid work is
set at 14. There are a few exceptions that allow children under the age
of 14 to work legally and these include specific work in performing,
modelling, sport and agriculture. In order to do any of this work, it
is necessary to get a licence from the local authority.
By law, children aged 14 to 16 can only do light work. There are
particular jobs they are not allowed to do and these include delivering
milk, selling alcohol, cigarettes or medicines, working in a kitchen or
a chip shop, working with dangerous machinery or doing any other kind
of work that might cause them any kind of injury. Children who work
have to get an employment card from their local authority and a medical
certificate of fitness for work.
The law sets out clear limits for the working hours and times for
14-16 year-old children. Every child must have at least two consecutive
weeks a year during the school holidays when they do not work. They
. for more than 4 hours without a one-hour rest break
. for more than 2 hours on any school day or a Sunday
. before 7.a.m. or after 7.p.m.
. for more than one hour before school starts
. for more than 12 hours in any school week.
15 and 16-year-olds can work slightly more hours than 14-year -olds
on a weekday when they are not at school, on Saturdays and in school
holidays The local authority has a duty to check that the law is
obeyed. If it believes that a young person is working illegally, it can
order that the young person is no longer employed. You can find more
information on the TUC website, www.worksmart.org.uk .