Sainsbury’s under fire for using under-age workers

Supermarket
giant Sainsbury’s has been heavily criticised by local authorities after being
found guilty of infringing child employment laws.

The
firm was fined £6,600 plus £350 costs by North West Surrey Magistrates, after
pleading guilty to 12 charges of failing to provide work permits for school-age
staff at the Swan Centre Leatherhead store, and for working others way beyond
the legally permitted hours.

Ian
Hart, the child protection officer in charge of prosecution for the council, said
he was particularly angry that Sainsbury’s had ignored repeated written
warnings and advice on how to comply with the regulations.

"I
couldn’t believe that despite all our efforts in attempting to work with the
company, it had the audacity to carry on ignoring the law, which exists purely
to protect youngsters," he said.

Despite
written warnings from the council in January and March 2002, council
investigators found the company had continued to ignore the regulations.

"Sainsbury’s
clearly had no qualms about flaunting the rules and putting the health and
education of school-age staff at risk," added Hart. "I find it
appalling that such a well-established and respected company failed to monitor
its local managers."

When
asked what HR would be doing to prevent further cases, a Sainsbury’s spokesman
said all store managers had been reminded of its policy on employing
youngsters, and that the company had vowed to work with the managers to ensure
the policy was followed.

By
Ross Wigham

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