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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 19:58 GMT
Theme park fined over child labour
Thorpe Park entrance
Thorpe Park said it was an "administrative error"
Thorpe Park has been fined after school children were found to be working illegally at the theme park.

Employment officers at Surrey County Council investigated the theme park for a number of breaches of employment law.

The owner, The Tussaud's Group, of Allsop Place, London, was fined 2,600 and told to pay 60 costs.

The breaches included employing eight school children without work permits and working its young employees over the permitted hours.

Lack of action

Officers first visited Thorpe Park in July and established that 14 of the young people aged 15-16 had no work permits.

Ian Hart, the council's child employment officer, said: "Senior staff at the park were advised by their own personnel department, yet took no steps to comply with the legislation.

"Companies have to realise that they cannot divorce themselves from their responsibilities.

"We have a duty to protect the children of Surrey and we will continue to take appropriate action."

'Schoolwork affected'

The fines imposed on the theme park, which employs more than 1,000 people every summer, were for more than 40 breaches relating to eight young people.

"Some of the young people were working an eight-hour day during the school week when they were supposed to be on study leave and revising for their GCSEs," said Mr Hart.

"I have no doubt that this is likely to have had a big effect on their academic achievement."

The team identified one young employee who worked a 36-hour week, followed by more than 50 hours the following week.

Legal limit

In total, the pupil had worked four times over the legal limit, said Mr Hart.

In a statement, Thorpe Park said eight young employees did not have a work permit due to an "administrative error".

"As soon as this matter was brought to our attention Thorpe Park took immediate action to rectify the situation and has co-operated fully with the local authorities throughout this matter.

"Thorpe Park as an Investor in People prides itself on being an ethical and professional employer.

"We will continue to work closely with the child employment office to ensure fair and reasonable treatment for our younger employees in the future."

See also:

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