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Knowing your rights - employment issues facing young people

This report is the concluding publication of Perth CAB's campaign which sought to research the issues young people face in the workplace, and find out how much they felt they knew about their employment rights.

A research campaign and survey ran by Perth CAB’s Social Policy Volunteer Sarah Mitchell reached its conclusion with an event in Perth Concert Hall. The event, organised to launch the report looking in the issues young people face in the workplace, brought together Councillors, politicians, and local organisations to hear the results of Sarah’s research.

151 young people completed the survey asking them about their experiences of employment and how much they knew about their rights in the workplace. The responses from the 16 to 24 year olds show that:

  • 1 in 4 has felt unfairly treated in the workplace. Young people felt they were treated differently from older employers and asked to do the tasks that others did not want to do. Young respondents felt they were picked on and blamed for things that went wrong.
  • 52% said that they did not feel that they were fully aware of their employment rights and had not had these explained to them at school or by employers. Many said that their uncertainty was due to inexperience of the work place and ‘being new’. The link between unawareness and unfair treatment is made by one respondent: “I am now, but was not aware a few years ago, and felt I was unfairly treated”.
  • 88% said that more needed to be done to inform young people of their employment rights and to prepare them for work.

The campaign has shown that whilst some young people are aware of their employment rights, their lack of experience in dealing with unfair employers can lead to unfair treatment. It seems that young people are more likely to put up with being badly treated and discriminated against but often feel that they have no choice but to put up with it. They are scared of the consequences and do not know how to contest bad working practices.

The young people who responded to this survey want to be taught about their rights as they understand how important this information is. They want more focus to be given on preparation for the work place, and think that schools, colleges, and universities need to adopt an active approach rather than expect that young people will look for advice when required. Whilst many have the capability and support to do this, many do not.

Sarah Mitchell, Social Policy Volunteer, Perth CAB
Publication date
September 2012
Publication type
Number of pages