Hours limit may leave teenagers jobless

A European directive to reduce the working hours of young adults could make them less attractive to employ and so lead to staff shortages, employers’ organisations have warned.

A consultation document on the European directive proposes that 16- to 18-year-olds will be required by law to work 40 hours or less a week – eight hours less than adult workers. The directive is part of the EC’s 1998 Working Time regulations.

A recent Labour Force survey showed that one-third of young people worked over 40 hours a week in wholesale, retail and the motor industry, and one in five in construction and manufacturing.

A spokesperson for retail union Usdaw said, “At present, young workers are employed heavily in the retail industry because of the extra benefits that they give the employer.

“Working shorter hours than adult workers may stop employers employing them as the benefits may no longer be there.”

Antonia Reid, business development manager for hospitality recruitment HR consultancy Mayday Group, agreed. She said, “Young workers may well be overlooked within the hospitality industry, especially at peak times, if they are unable to work as long as adult workers.

“There is already a staff shortage in the industry and it does not look like this will help.”

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