Job seeking and work safety

Think safety, whether you are at work, doing work experience, or seeking work
Young man working on a building site

Staying safe at work is important at all ages. But young people may be more at risk. This is not just because they have less experience. Young people can also be either very confident, or very nervous and may worry about asking for help.

But safety is everyone's responsibility. If you have a concern:

  • stay calm
  • ask for guidance
  • follow instructions

Instant expert: There are jobs you can't do as a younger worker and rules about how many hours you can work, especially if you are studying. Find out more about working legally.

Safety while job-seeking

Safety starts before you get your job. When you are looking for work, think safety.

Safe and approved channels like this website, Job Centres, employment agencies, the Apprenticeship Finder and major recruitment websites will contain safer opportunities. But if you only stick to these, you may miss some good jobs.

When you are are looking for work, whether it is your first job after school, or part-time work alongside study, always:

  • Talk about the job with a trusted adult and see what they think
  • Investigate the opportunity to check that it is genuine (for example, visit their website, call them)
  • Make sure a trusted adult knows where you are going and when you should be back

For many young people, their first job comes from someone they know, or a place where they have done work experience or volunteered. This is a very safe way to find work, as you already know the people or the workplace.

Remember, an interview is not just an opportunity for a workplace to decide if you are suitable. It is also your opportunity to decide if you like the workplace. If you have concerns, say you will let them know later, and talk to your parents or an adult you trust.

Be alert: Scammers sometimes pose as people offering jobs and careers. One of the more famous scams targets young people who want to be models or actors. The scammers demand an upfront fee or payment for portfolio or representation services. Find out more from Action Fraud and www.gov.uk.

Safety in the Workplace

Employers have the primary responsibility to protect young workers. But young people themselves need to be aware of health and safety issues when they enter the world of work.

By law, employers are responsible for protecting young workers, including carrying out risk assessments, and providing the training and supervision that young people need.

Young people have the right to safe and healthy work, the right to ask questions, and the right to refuse to do work that is unsafe.

Young workers also have responsibilities:

  • to co-operate with their employers on health and safety issues
  • to follow safety procedures to protect themselves and their work mates
  • To use the protective equipment and clothing that they are given.

To keep safe, young workers should:

  • be aware of their rights, and make sure they are working legally
  • not carry out tasks until they have been properly trained and follow the training they have been given
  • know what to do in an emergency
  • Be confident in speaking up if there is a problem or they are unsure of something.

The kinds of work you can do depends on how old you are. Find out more about Working legally.

Crucial: Young people with disabilities, learning difficulties or special educational needs may be able to access extra support at work, or find roles suited to their abilities. Speak to an adviser at your Job Club or register with the EET Support Service. There are also groups in Oxfordshire that can help you get work ready.

Bullying and harassment at work 

Bullying at work is any unwanted behaviour that makes a worker feel scared, upset or uncomfortable. It can happen without other people noticing. Your boss or employer might not be aware. Examples of bullying at work:

  • Insulting someone or being cruel, face to face or by phone or email
  • Spreading rumours, or telling lies about someone
  • Ignoring or excluding a person
  • Being unfair
  • Undermining a good worker with criticism

Harassment is unwanted behaviour related to one of the following: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Harassment is against the law, under the Equality Act 2010.

Instant expert: Find out more about bullying, harassment and how to report concerns on the ACAS website.

Younger workers can find it hard to change, challenge or report behaviour in the workplace. This may be because the workers doing or saying things that make you feel upset or uncomfortable are older, senior or have been in the workplace for a long time. But by taking action you can help your organisation be a safe and respectful workplace, and improve the working environment - for everyone. 

Take action: If you are having problems at work, with your learning provider or at your apprenticeship, the important thing to do is talk it over as soon as possible. Find about more about what you can do if you are having problems at your work, placement or training.

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