Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Latest update - 14th April 2020

Published: 16th April 2020

We are working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) and Public Health England (PHE) to offer some guidance and support around Children in Entertainment and Employment.

The NNCEE feel it is vital that we ensure government advice around social distancing and limiting the need to leave your home unless this is essential still applies to young people and whilst it seems they are less impacted than other age groups they are not immune to Covid-19 and in granting a licence LA officers would need to consider the risk for the young person working and if that increases the risk for other members of their household.

The DfE have clarified that a slight increase in working hours (but within term-time limits) would be legal, and that ‘term time’ would be the pre-Covid term dates for the relevant area, but LA inspectors might intervene if a child was put at risk. The DfE clarified last week they feel key worker status does not apply to children but would apply to their parents and enable their children to access the education provision in schools

DfE statement says:

The distribution of newspapers is a key activity during the current pandemic. Distributors are concerned that their ability to ensure that papers are delivered is jeopardised by some local authorities that are refusing all applications for employment permits for young people of compulsory school age, and/or withdrawing existing permits.

It is for authorities to decide on individual cases, and safeguarding children’s well being is rightly their priority. They should, however, also take account of employers’ measures to safeguard young workers and whether these are enough to address any safeguarding concerns and decide case-by-case rather than impose a blanket ban. We hope that authorities and distributors can find ways for young workers to work in safe conditions.

The Local Government Association has also indicated:

Maintaining delivery of newspapers

We’ve been contacted by representatives of the local newspaper industry to highlight a particular issue. As we know, newspapers can be an important source of local information and for some, without access to social media, it may be one of the only ways for them to get local information. Access to newspapers can also be a part of mental well-being as well as an important way for informing people about how they should respond during the current public health emergency.

One of the ways to get newspapers into homes is through deliveries, often made by young people, many of whom will require a permit to be able to do so. Having spoken to colleagues, including directors of children’s services, we would encourage councils to think about how deliveries of newspapers can be continued through this period, and to continue to issue permits to young people to make these deliveries where they feel it is appropriate to do so.

We are also talking to the newspaper industry to ask that they ensure newsagents use good social distancing, safety at work processes and provide appropriate advice to young people.

David Holdstock, Director of Communications

Local Government Association

The NNCEE has recommended that LA officers should continue to safeguard children and make sure that licences are not issued during school opening hours for those that the Government has identified as pupils who should be in education. Vulnerable children include all children who are supported by Social Care, i.e. those with safeguarding and welfare needs, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. As well as the children of key workers.

If Local Authorities were to issue licences to pupils it would be possible for them to work the extended hours, but employers would need to satisfy their LA that the appropriate risk assessments and safeguards are in place for young people and they are not being exploited and their education will not suffer because of working.

DBS checks for Chaperones

The DBS service have advised that DBS checks can be carried out by video links where you can clearly see the individual and their evidence together and chaperone renewals that require a DBS check can be done by email and then original evidence must be seen at the earliest opportunity when things resume back to normal. For more information, please go to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-changes-to-dbs-id-checking-guidelines

Chaperone applications can be processed during this time if there are suitable resources within LA's but a final approval will be subject to the DBS check being completed and original documents checked.

Chaperone training online or via video links can still go ahead as well as accessing the NSPCC training for chaperones.

The NNCEE strongly suggests that individual Local Authorities liaise with their senior leaders and legal services to decide on whether they approve applications and issue licences during this time. We advise all LA's to document the checks they have made and the decision making process if they issue a licence and if they are unable to issue a licence to write to the employer to explain why they are unable to do so.