- A McDonald's restaurant has been fined more than £12,000
for employing schoolchildren illegally, forcing them to work overtime and
late on school nights.
- A franchise of the fast-food restaurant in Camberley,
Surrey, was found guilty of working teenagers late into the night on school
days, often without rest breaks. Child employment officers from Surrey
county council found more than 50 breaches of the law.
- The firm that runs the franchise, Ikhya Enterprises,
was fined £12,400 by magistrates at Woking after being found guilty
of 20 offences.
- The breaches of regulations involved schoolchildren aged
15 and 16. One 15-year-old had worked 16 hours on a Saturday, seven hours
over the legal limit. Another 16-year-old had worked from 5pm until 2am
on a school day, when legally she should not have worked after 7pm.
- Ian Hart, the council's child employment officer, said:
"This is one of the biggest prosecutions in the illegal employment
of schoolchildren and it is refreshing that the court has taken such a
tough stance. Employers have to be aware that we will not compromise our
statutory duty to protect the children of Surrey and that we will take
- Mr Hart visited two McDonald's restaurants in Camberley
earlier this year after a complaint from a parent and found that none of
the young employees had work permits. McDonald's said in a statement that
it only hired workers above school-leaving age.
- The owner of the franchise in Camberley, Kevin Izatt,
has been told to stop employing children under school-leaving age.
- A McDonald's statement said: "We expect our franchisees
and managers to maintain the highest standards in all restaurants. We are
deeply disappointed that this was not the case in this instance.
- "In court, Kevin Izatt explained that he did have
a manual system in place to prevent infringements, however there had been
a lack of follow up. He has children of his own and seriously regrets this
- The TUC, which earlier this year said up to 500,000 schoolchildren
could be working illegally, said a firm like McDonald's had a special responsibility
to ensure that youngsters were not distracted from school work.