The misdemeanour procedure concerning newspaper kids, initiated against Ekspress Meedia AS by the Labour Inspectorate, has now been ended on the principle of opportunity, meaning that no punishment was imposed.
The Inspectorate is of the opinion that newspaper kids who were working near Järve Keskus last summer can be treated as employees as defined in the Employment Contracts Act, and they did not engage in easy work in the field of culture, arts, sports, or advertising, which are allowed to 7-12-year-old children. Yet, the Labour Inspectorate finds that imposing a punishment on Ekspress Meedia would not be reasonable in this specific case as, during meetings, the employer has expressed their sincere wish to re-organize the working environment in such a way that the health and safety of children would be guaranteed. The employer has also expressed their desire to find ways how to offer a work opportunity to 7-12-year-olds without breaking any laws.
When ending the misdemeanour procedure, the Labour Inspectorate took into consideration that Ekspress Meedia AS has made efforts to guarantee the work safety of minors, and to safely reorganize their work, and found that a monetary punishment would not bring along better results.
“During the decision-making process, the Labour Inspectorate took into consideration that Ekspress Meedia might not have understood the unlawfulness of their activities – allowing children under the age of 13 to work – as they emanated from previous and established practice. The legal representatives or parents of kids who were selling newspapers were aware that their children were working, and had provided their consent, i.e. had also accepted a responsibility for their children’s working conditions. Ekspress Meedia has taken steps to provide unlawful activities in the future, and there is a lack of public interest to punish it. The desired outcome of a punishment – raising awareness and prohibiting future violations – has already been achieved using alternative means,” is stated in the misdemeanour procedure ending resolution.
The Labour Inspectorate supervises employment relations and working environment, and continues to notify about legally correct employment relationships. The Labour Inspectorate would like to stress – to both employers and parents – that in order to protect them, the following legal limitations apply to employing minors:
7–12-YEAR-OLD MINORS ARE ALLOWED TO:
- engage in easy work in the field of culture, arts, sports, or advertising; primarily as a creative employee at a performing arts institution, also, working as a model.
MINORS AGED 13 AND UP ARE ALLOWED TO ENGAGE IN THE FOLLOWING EASY WORK:
- agricultural works, like planting horticultural plants or crops, weeding, watering, hilling, harvesting; picking fruit or berries; cleaning vegetables or preparing them for sales;
- assisting works in trade or service companies, like unpacking or shelving items, attaching price tags or labels, preparing packing materials or packages, packing small items, handing out samples or flyers;
- accessory works at catering or accommodation providers, like laying the tables, retrieving or washing used dishes, cleaning the rooms;
- other works that comply with the requirements in Employment Contracts Act §7 sections 2 and 4.
The Labour Inspectorate would also like to stress that if work is done for remuneration, and the person who does the work is subject to the guidance and control of a person enabling the work (company, institution, also a physical person), then such a relationship is an employment relationship.