HAVING read "Probe into child work at York fitness club" (May 12) and letters from Fiona Himsworth and Carol Pearman (May 15), I wish to clarify matters regarding the employment of school-age children.

Reference was made to York's "out of date employment laws". The present byelaws came into force in 1999. They came about as a result of central Government reviewing this area.

All authorities are bound by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and the Children (Protection at Work) Regulations 1998, which restrict the hours young people of school age can work. The main points being that children may work:

A maximum of two hours on schooldays

A maximum of two hours on Sundays between 7am and 11am.

A maximum of five hours (13-14 year olds) or eight hours (15-16 year olds) on Saturdays.

Not before 7am or after 7pm.

Not during school hours.

During holidays, schoolchildren are able to work additional hours. In addition all young people working must have an employment permit issued by the local education authority.

It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that young people have the necessary work permit.

The York byelaws are primarily concerned with detailing the types of work, not the hours, that young people can undertake.

I know that work can provide young people with valuable skills and opportunities for development. However, we also have responsibility to ensure their health, development and education are not endangered. Both national legislation and local byelaws aim to do this.

Mark Smith,

Principal Education Social Worker,

City of York Council,

George Hudson Street, York.

Updated: 11:10 Wednesday, May 21, 2003