Jayne Hart

Member Article

Considerations for North East SMEs when hiring through the Kickstart scheme

• Government funding will pay for six-month job placements offered to young people at risk of long-term unemployment. • The Kickstart scheme is for companies hiring at least 30 people, but smaller businesses can pool together to meet the minimum requirement. • Young people new to the job market require extra training and protections.

The government’s Kickstart scheme is now active. This provides funding for six-month work placements for young people on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. With many businesses looking to benefit, Jayne Hart from The HR Dept Newcastle looks at some of the wider considerations when hiring young people new to the world of work.

Jayne begins: “It’s pleasing to see the level of support being offered to businesses and those entering the labour market during this testing time. While some of the detail of the scheme is yet to be confirmed, the support looks to be comprehensive, covering National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, national insurance and auto-enrolment pension contributions, as well as set-up costs.

“The rules of the Kickstart scheme are one thing, but it’s important for employers to be aware of other rules that still stand, relating to employing young people.

“The minimum school-leaving age in England is 16. However, school leavers must, until the age of 18, carry out work-based training like an apprenticeship, or continue their education part time if working, or remain in full time education. These requirements do not apply in Scotland and Wales.

“So there is scope to be employing 16- and 17-year-olds, and if so the Working Time Regulations state that they cannot work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. They must also have at least a 30-minute break if working for more than 4.5 hours. There are stipulations about rest periods between shifts and on a weekly basis too. There are some restrictions around night working if this is relevant to you, including a total ban on working between midnight and 4am.

“Under health and safety law, employers have a duty of care towards all employees, but there are extra considerations when employing 16- and 17-year-olds. Much of it will seem like common sense but it is enshrined in law. You need to ensure they are not exposed to risk due to their lack of experience, maturity or from simply being unaware of existing or potential risks. You must consider a range of factors such as workplace layout, health and safety training and work equipment among other things.

“Once basic safety is covered, let’s not forget that they may be completely new to the workplace and the etiquette and responsibility that goes with that – even if they are a little older than 18. All new hires need a degree of onboarding, and it may be best to go a little further with young, inexperienced people. Having clear policies and communicating them well is a strong first step here. Many businesses will have bespoke onboarding programmes and mentoring schemes which will help further.

“The Kickstart scheme does reimburse pay at minimum wage for 25 hours a week. If they work more than that you’ll need to cover it at the relevant minimum wage rate or higher.”

For enquiries, please contact Beth Thompson from The HR Dept, at beth.thompson@hrdept.co.uk or on 0191 594 7789.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jayne Hart .

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