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01/08/01 . By Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent . The Independent . UK
McDonald's fined over children's long hours
A McDonald's restaurant has been fined more than £12,000 for overworking schoolchildren in one of the biggest prosecutions of its kind.
The American fast-food giant was found guilty of working some of its young employees late into the night on school days, often without rest breaks. One 15-year-old girl served burgers and fries for 16 hours on a Saturday - seven hours over the legal limit.
The case was the worst of 51 breaches of employment regulations found between 24 May and 14 June at a McDonald's restaurant in Camberley, Surrey, by county council inspectors.
Ikhya Enterprises Ltd, which runs two McDonald's restaurants, was fined
£12,400 plus £60 costs by magistrates at Woking on 20 counts of breaching the regulations.
Ian Hart, a child employment officer with Surrey County Council, said: "This is one of the biggest prosecutions in the illegal employment of school children and it is refreshing that the court has taken such a tough stance.
Employers have to be aware that we will not compromise our statutory duty to protect the children of Surrey and that we will take appropriate action."
Mr Hart first visited the restaurants in January after a father contacted him with concerns that his son's school work was suffering because of the hours he worked at McDonald's.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said the company usually only hired employees above school-leaving age, and deeply regretted the lapse.