Dorset becomes first to digitalise child labour permits

Dorset Council issues the licences needed by businesses wishing to employ people aged 13 to 16.

The council recently became the first in the country to replace its paper-based Child Work Permit process with a slick digital system.

Traditionally the process was cumbersome, time-consuming and fraught with potential problems. The application was managed by the child, who shuttled it between employer, parents and school.

The clumsiness of the old system also meant our licensing team was overwhelmed by paper processes.

We wanted to simplify what was a complex process and increase the number of employers with the legally-required licence to employ a child, ensuring Dorset’s young people are employed safely in appropriate environments.

An online application now triggers a complex set of workflows which manage the required inputs from various parties.

Key local employers of children, who now manage permit applications, were engaged in the redesign.  These businesses helped test the system and gave valuable feedback on ease of use and potential improvements.

Child work permits in Dorset are now processed in hours rather than weeks. This means less stress for staff, happier local businesses and safer young people.

The digital process and associated communications drive has prompted a 65% increase in applications, with over 520 permits issued in 2018.

Admin Team Leader Wendy Bradley said: “Our aim is for no child in Dorset to be employed without a licence and the associated workplace checks which ensure that the environment and employment is suitable.

“Businesses feel more in control and tell us it’s an improved experience.”

The administrative overhead has been reduced for both local employers and the council.

Re-keying is a thing of the past and the data submitted has improved. We have full sight of the application throughout the process and an audit trail.

The end-to-end process is more efficient meaning we can issue work permits quicker, ensuring that children are working in safe, permitted environments and within permitted working hours.

We now plan to introduce a Child Employer Award to engage local employers, raise the profile of the service and promote the legal duty to have a permit before employing young people.