Food Allergy Aware's Mock Trial Event - 30/04/2021 - Caroline Benjamin
Allergen management will no doubt be amongst the top priorities for the hospitality industry when the doors finally re-open after lockdown. With Natasha’s Law coming into effect on October 1st and the increased focus by local authorities on compliance with food safety legislation, it is essential that caterers and food producers make changes accordingly.
Allergen management will no doubt be amongst the top priorities for the hospitality industry when the doors finally re-open after lockdown. With Natasha’s Law coming into effect on October 1st and the increased focus by local authorities on compliance with food safety legislation, it is essential that caterers and food producers make changes accordingly. Now is an ideal time to re-visit production methods, re-assess the food offering, review menus and re-train staff, not forgetting to revise the necessary paperwork! Customer safety is paramount, not only the essential precautionary measures regarding Covid-19, but also the control measures that are necessary to ensure that the free-from customer can eat out safely. This will inspire customer confidence that the food outlet of choice is taking allergen management seriously.
The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergenic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population* affected by one or more allergic disorder and young adults under 35 are the most likely group to suffer from an allergy. Research has revealed that young people are eating take-away meals more often now than before lock-down began and that this trend is likely to continue. The allergen labelling regulations apply to all take-away outlets and allergen information must be available to the customer before the purchase of the food is completed and when the food is delivered. This information must be accurate and verifiable.
During lockdown, more businesses have started to take advantage of online ordering and delivery, and in some cases these businesses are not registered with the local authority. They may be unaware of the fact that registration is necessary in order for the local authority to carry out an inspection of the premises prior to being able to sell food to the public. They may also be unaware of the legislation surrounding the provision of allergen information and the control of allergenic cross- contamination, but ignorance of the Law is no defence! Tragically, there are 10-12 deaths per annum which are attributed to an allergic reaction to food and hospital admissions due to an allergic reaction have massively increased.
Regardless of the size of the business, it is essential to take allergen control seriously. Before re-opening, a business should put a process in place to track and identify the allergens that are present in all the food it produces. Fortunately, the technology is now available to identify all the allergenic ingredients from supplier to menu automatically thus making it so much easier to keep the information up to date and accurate.
The free-from customer also has a responsibility to let the business know that they are allergic to certain foods and this should be encouraged by signposting, menu information and staff training. Caterers are not mind readers and communication is essential at all stages from the customer to the front of house staff, and from front of house to the kitchen. One mistake could be catastrophic for the customer and for the business concerned so staff training and accurate allergen information are vital.
In order to understand the consequences of what can happen when things go wrong, Food Allergy Aware is holding an innovative online “Mock Trial- Food Allergy Prosecution” on Wednesday May 26th. All attendees will hear the prosecution and defence cases and will be part of the jury involved in passing sentence. It will all be supervised by the sitting Judge.
Do not miss this unique opportunity to get involved and meet suppliers and a host of keynote speakers from the Allergen Management Sector. Not only will we be exploring the legal ramifications of ‘getting it wrong’ we will also be hearing from Nando’s and Center Parcs who will explain their ‘Best Practice’ processes in place to cater for customers with allergy requirements, as well as some first-hand experiences of those that live with food allergies. Food Standards Agency will also be presenting about what new PPDS legislation coming into effect in the UK on the 1st October 2021 means for businesses and how they can get ready for this next step. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that your allergen management systems have been fully considered and that all necessary processes and procedures are in place.
We are really pleased to have recently partnered with Serve Legal, who will be sponsoring this event and be attending as an exhibitor.
*M.L Levy (2004)
To find out more about the Food Allergy Prosecution Mock Trial - Sentencing Hearing on Wednesday 26 May please click here.
For further information on Food Allergy Aware please contact:
Caroline Benjamin: Food Allergy Aware
If you want to find out more about Natasha’s Law and the work the NARF (Natasha Allergy Research Foundation) are doing you can find out by clicking here: What is Natasha's Law? — Natasha Allergy Research Foundation
The Food Standards Agency has compiled a comprehensive introduction to the labelling changes regarding PPDS here: Introduction to allergen labelling changes (PPDS) | Food Standards Agency
Partnership Announcement: C-Store Collective
Serve Legal are partnering with C-Store Collective to make it easier for independent retailers and retail groups to protect their business and local communities from the dangers of underage sales.
Matt Eastwood, Commercial Manager at Serve Legal says “As the UK's leading ID testing company, Serve Legal are established as an essential retailer service, performing over 150,000 audits a year to help many convenience and supermarket retailers to protect their business and reputation from the risk to underage sales. We enable responsible retailers to pro-actively check their staff are asking young customers for ID and avoid the risk of potential large fines, costly trading restrictions and reputational damage. This is an approach supported by local authorities and is successfully used to check all in-store and home delivery age restricted services. We are delighted to be partnering with the C-Store Collective and offering an essential service at very competitive prices for independent retailers and retail groups.
Mike Igoe and John Heagney, 2 of the 3 founding partners of the C-Store Collective have both worked with Serve Legal in the past, John when head of Nisa Symbol group and Mike when at Heron Foods and Jacksons Food Group. Mike says “Ensuring due diligence via test purchases can save costly fines and license challenges from local authorities. It is a main stay of any managed group but often overlooked by independent retailers. Certainly, any multi-site operator should have a programme of test purchasing in place and having successfully worked with Serve Legal it was an obvious choice for us to partner with them”.
C-Store Collective are a panel of industry-leading consultants and associates, who can provide expert knowledge of every aspect of convenience store operation to help increase your profits. We will work with C-Store Collective clients to help them accurately and effectively measure compliance within their stores or at the doorstep (in relation to delivery services), to help identify and fix risks to their business relating to underage sales and age verification.
If you are interested to learn how Serve Legal or C-Store Collective can help your business, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
See our Members & Partnerships page for more information on who we work alongside - get in touch if you would like to work with us!
My Journey with Serve Legal - 06.03.21 - Gabe Abbott (for National Careers Week)
My Serve Legal journey began on my 18th birthday when I eagerly texted my area manager requesting my first set of audits. I’d seen the auditor role advertised a little while before, and couldn’t quite believe that there was a company that would pay me to drive around Cornwall (mileage included) test purchasing an array of items!
What soon struck me about the auditor role is that you immediately take on considerable responsibility and are really given the chance to develop. While you aren’t required to have previous experience or jump through many hoops to get started, you are expected to demonstrate high levels of integrity, honesty, and self-motivation – it can certainly be a more challenging role than other entry-level jobs for 18-year-olds, but it makes for a rewarding opportunity to gain valuable experience for any employer! The more I proved my competence to my Area Manager, the more work I was trusted with and the more varied opportunities I had to build confidence, develop skills, and of course earn money!
When I joined, I was in the process of applying for university with aspirations of joining the Police, so it had even more direct relevance for me, but also gave me the flexibility to get involved in voluntary roles to improve my CV. I became a Police Support Volunteer alongside work, which would involve public engagement events, vehicle maintenance, and assisting the running of fortnightly Police Cadets meetings. Having the freedom in my schedule to get stuck in with this, but also a steady part-time income meant that I could give a consistent commitment to my voluntary role, knowing that it would really benefit my future career development.
Meanwhile, having built an excellent rapport with a few different members of the Area Manager team, I was encouraged to apply for one of the internal roles; approving reports at the weekend (Assistant Coordinator/AC). As everyone works remotely at Serve Legal (even back then before recent Zoom days), I had a virtual interview, which I oddly enough remember doing from my tent at Boardmasters Festival - the good vibes must have worked in my favour as I was soon offered the job! This was a new challenge as it meant I was now directly responsible for the management of around 1/5th of our UK auditors and the quality of their reports that would ultimately be received by clients; a task that thoroughly tested my eye for detail each weekend. Further, this role provided an experience of challenging auditors on their behaviour; whilst still a similar age to them, if I suspected something was wrong or possibly falsified. Subsequently, I would need to secure engagement and the correct information over the phone and email from the auditor in order to progress reports. Skills I feel are transferable to work within the Police. From this, I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to communicate sensitively but with authority over a multitude of platforms.
I decided to step back from my role with Serve Legal some months ago so that I could commit to policing as a Special Constable whilst approaching the end of university, but I try to stay engaged with the company as much as I can. As I’m now approaching completion of my degree and am building my professional profile ready to start my full-time career, I can really appreciate the benefits, competence, and work-ethos that I developed from a job in auditing and management. Regardless of what career path you have in mind, or if you have no idea yet, I really do believe that joining as an auditor at 18 for Serve Legal provides individuals with a wealth of experience, skills, and wider development opportunities applicable to employability and interviews; whilst also taking on enough responsibility for self-discovery.
My Journey with Serve Legal - 18.02.21 - Hannah McGeoghegan (for National Student Money Week)
When I first heard about Serve Legal, I was living in Cumbria, studying at college and working in a local bakery every Saturday in order to fund an increasingly expensive social life having turned 18! After taking on my first few audits, I realised this wasn't just a job that could let me reclaim my Saturday mornings (I soon quit the bakery!), but also could get me out and about exploring my local area and beyond.
The flexibility of the work suited my lifestyle perfectly, and when I no longer had college to occupy my time too, I decided to explore other casual work opportunities that I could do alongside. Living in a rural area, I was surprised by how much was available, providing I was willing to travel to bigger towns & cities nearby - my experience as an auditor with Serve Legal meant I was comfortable doing this and I knew it was something I actually quite enjoyed. Through various agencies, I would take part in and even manage product promotion events in supermarkets and shopping centres, attend conferences as a brand ambassador, do leafletting... it varied widely, much like auditing, which I was still doing alongside this too!
This type of work had plenty of other similarities to Serve Legal: there was a high level of responsibility relative to my age and work experience, I could take on work as & when I wanted, and communication with my manager was all done remotely (mostly over the phone). Auditing had helped me developed the necessary skills & confidence to do these things - time management, professional communication, planning/organisation - and as I could prove I'd applied these in a work setting already, I was consistently able to get jobs. There were some real highlights that I will never forget: a trip up to Aberdeen, an event as brand ambassador for Coca Cola, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Chanel offices in London for a launch event!
At 21, I went to Newcastle for university, where I began to fully appreciate the convenience of flexible work once again. I really wanted to make the most of those long summer breaks to travel, but also make some money, so I worked for the NCS on their summer programmes round the UK one year, worked at a summer camp in California, and taught English out in Taiwan. Taking on roles with significant responsibilities in unfamiliar environments was what I'd been doing since I was 18 - but little did I know this would lead me to adventures in the USA and East Asia!
On finishing university and starting my job search, I happened to see an email from Serve Legal advertising a full-time Area Manager role. I hadn't done much of the non-age-restricted work recently, but I had fond memories of the business and the Area Managers I had worked with, and I liked the idea of applying what I'd learned from flexible work to help new auditors make the most of the opportunity. I now get to work from home and travel to London once a month to meet with the rest of the team (pre-Covid at least!), so even in a full-time job, I still get some of that flexibility and adventure!
Tips for making casual jobs work for you:
Make the most of the flexibility: think about what you can fit into your schedule that you wouldn't be able to otherwise
See the travelling time as a benefit: if you're getting public transport, you could do some uni work on the train or some life admin on the bus! You could cycle or walk, so that you're getting some exercise in at the same time (remember, Serve Legal pay a mileage allowance for this!)
Ask for work in places you want to go visit: for Serve Legal at least, the nicest areas can often be the ones we struggle to complete work in, meaning you may even get a bonus for helping us out!
Have more than one job: the downside of casual work is that sometimes there won't be anything available! Look for things that you can coordinate easily, such as one that's more weekends, and one that's more weekday, so you can continue them both alongside each other (luckily, Serve Legal can be either!)
Build good working relationships with the company/companies: while casual work leaves you flexible to pick what you want to do, it also means your manager is free to not offer you as much work if you are unreliable. On the flip side, if you have a good working relationship, chances are you will be their first call when they have an exciting new project!
Take steps to manage your time: if you're juggling multiple casual jobs plus uni plus a social life, it can get a bit confusing!
My Journey with Serve Legal - 10/02/21 - Dan Hazell
There I was, 18 years old, looking for a part-time job for some extra cash. I'd worked in a few shops, which were useful, but I fancied something a bit more adventurous... and along came Serve Legal! Never could I have imagined where my journey with Serve Legal would take me (both literally and metaphorically!) and that nearly 5 years on, I'd still be with the company.
My first role with Serve Legal, like most, was as an auditor. Whilst I had enjoyed my previous part-time jobs and learnt plenty from them, nothing quite compares to being an auditor both in terms of enjoyment and the array of skills that you can develop whilst carrying out your duties. It really did take me everywhere; from ferry trips to Stornoway, catching planes to Shetland and Orkney, to every region of Scotland and even the hustle and bustle of London. I could absolutely never have imagined doing over 1500 audits across so many locations when I applied for the job, and winning Auditor of the Year in 2017 really was the cherry on the cake.
Alongside all the fun of seeing these new places, I learnt some really valuable skills. For me, learning how to work independently was a big one. Planning such trips and being able to adapt to challenges along the way (cancelled flights for some Orkney audits spring to mind) really does teach you a lot about yourself, and it certainly benefited my organisational skills.
Above all though, I think it was my confidence that benefited the most. Before I joined Serve Legal, I would have avoided many situations. The work, at first, put me a bit outside of my comfort zone, but with the help and support of my wonderful Area Manager (Hannah), I gained the confidence to express myself and give things a go - a lesson I have been able to apply in lots of other situations ever since.
Following on from auditing, I then was lucky enough to be offered a role as an Assistant Co-Ordinator. This involved supporting Area Managers with operations tasks - assigning audits, checking audits, supporting and training auditors - and guiding auditors through the process I had just gone through and passing on any tips and experience I had.
This gave me a taster of what it was like to work in a more senior role for the company. I was dealing with important data that was being directly used by clients, which was an amazing insight into the working world at such a young age. I was then fortunate enough to be offered an Area Manager role. I did this for over 3 years, and it was a path I am so happy I took. It helped to develop me in terms of leadership, problem solving, organisation and teamwork, all such vital skills, and I was fortunate enough to be in a position that enabled me to continue developing them.
One other aspect I benefited from is the time spent working from home. In a changing world where this has become, and likely will continue to be, increasingly common, my experience doing this has been invaluable. It perhaps took some getting used to, but I feel I learnt how best to work from home and overcame the challenges that it can sometimes involve. Regular virtual meetings, monthly in-person meetings as well as some fantastic socials meant that Serve Legal really did give me the best of both worlds.
I left my full-time role in September 2020, to go to University and pursue my goal of working within football, and already feel like I am reaping the benefits of my experiences with Serve Legal. I actually went to University immediately after school in 2016 but, combined with choosing the wrong degree, struggled a bit with the expectations at that age so didn't continue. It's been a completely different story this time around; I feel Serve Legal, and the ways I have developed as a person in my time there, played a large part in this. I feel in a far better position to express myself and to have the confidence to throw myself into situations now, helped further by the 'soft skills' I've picked up along the way.
Alongside my studies, I still work for Serve Legal as an Assistant Co-Ordinator again. The flexibility of the role, as is the case with the auditor role, really couldn't be better suited to a student. Each role I've held in the last 5 years really has been perfect for me at the time, and I'm grateful for all the great people I've worked with over the years that have made them so enjoyable. Going through the highs and lows of Serve Legal and gaining the level of exposure that it allows you is such a fantastic grounding, and I feel it will stand me in good stead for my future career.
My Journey with Serve Legal - 25/01/21 - Aly O'Mahoney
My Serve Legal journey began when I started working as an auditor. Don’t be fooled by the single job title, I way busy carrying out all sorts of tasks.
Ordering home deliveries, visiting pubs, buying doughnuts from the bakery and even betting on Manchester United to win the Champions League... One can dream! Carrying out audits has developed my time management skills and ability to work independently. Not many other jobs available to young people encourage the development of these skills. The wide range of work also exposed me to the dangers businesses face and how Serve Legal ensures they stay protected.
After 18 months of carrying out audits I was fortunate enough to be offered a role as an Assistant Co-ordinator (AC). Before I knew it I was assigning audits, co-ordinating shifts, approving reports and meeting important deadlines. I was suddenly responsible for obtaining real data for real clients. Big clients. Though this is still true for auditors, as an AC it began to feel more real. With two years of university still to complete I had some experience in management and understood the importance of client relationships.
One aspect of working for Serve Legal which I valued was the flexibility. As a university student, my timetable was changing, assignments and exams were stressful, I was often travelling between my flat and my parents’ house and I also wanted to have a social life. Serve Legal allowed me to do everything I needed/wanted to do whilst being able to work.
I am now working as a Trainee Data Analyst in the banking sector, a role I had my eye on towards the end of my degree. I wouldn’t have been prepared for such a position if it wasn’t for the skills I developed during my time at Serve Legal. Proving my reliability and having the ability to work independently impressed my current employer. These two skills were significantly developed during my time as both an AC and an auditor, as I had to manage my own time and meet important deadlines without a manager looking over my shoulder.
Collaboration was one of the key soft skills that my current employer was ‘looking for’ during my interview process. The interview for my current role was actually hosted by a group of people from different divisions. Serve Legal developed my ability to collaborate with various people in a range of divisions - which helped me ace the interview and land my dream job!
Above all, it was the people that made working at Serve Legal an absolute pleasure. I have never worked with such a fun, supportive and genuinely kind group of people. Though I worked remotely, I was always made to feel like a part of the Serve Legal family. I will always be grateful for that.
500 new jobs for 18-19 year olds as online retail booms!
Young people are among the worst-affected by the Covid pandemic’s economic downturn and youth unemployment is rising. But Serve Legal has good news. We’re going into 2021 looking for 500 smart, self-motivated 18 and 19 year olds to join us as auditors. Our auditors play a vital role in helping retailers across the UK and Ireland prevent underage sales.
Online sales have boomed during the pandemic, but retailer age checks have failed to keep pace. Our data shows that doorstep ID checks fell from 72% in March 2020 to 60% in December 2020. Online retail will be a major focus for our business in 2021. We complete 100,000+ audits a year, and the results provide valuable data to help retailers trade responsibly.
What does being an auditor involve?
Auditors shop for age-restricted products like alcohol, tobacco and knives, then report back on their experience. Whether at a store checkout, self-serve till, on an app or website, or during a home delivery, young-looking people should always be asked to show proof of age. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Retailers come to us, wanting to know when they’re getting it wrong.
It’s interesting, varied, flexible work that fits around education, apprenticeship or other employment. Auditors get to travel all over their local and surrounding areas, sometimes further afield, and some auditing is done from home. Read some of our auditors’ experiences in our other blog articles below.
Alerts are sent regularly, flagging new local opportunities, so auditors can take on as much work as they want. We have new services too, like customer experience auditing for people with food allergies.
Pay and training
Serve Legal is recognised as a Youth-Friendly Employer by Youth Employment UK. We pay per audit completed, which is calculated to be in line with the Real Living Wage, and full induction and training are provided. Our network of area managers provide support, mentoring, motivation, and admin help - many of them used to be auditors too.
For some auditors, Serve Legal is their first experience of working life. Others progress to management positions within the company or use their experience to help get their first full-time job or to develop in their chosen career.
We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of auditors to Serve Legal in 2021.
Interested? Apply today here!
Gaining Experience - 13/11/20 - Ewura-Ama Quarshie
When I first joined Serve Legal, it was refreshing to find a job that did not inexplicably require a ton of experience from an age group who have only just become able to enter the workforce. Serve Legal provides a great chance to gain experience in professionalism, attention to detail and communication skills.
Working for Serve Legal helped me by providing a part time job that I could do when I wanted alongside university. It is a great job for a student for many reasons, but a key one for me was that I would be paid to do online food shops, providing they contained age-restricted products. This was very useful this summer in lockdown, where I completed online shopping audits in the lead up to my 20th birthday. Not only did I manage to earn some money while everything else was shut down, but I could do so in a way that was safe when it was not advisable to go out regularly.
I signed up at 19 as I had been busy trying to get to grips with university in my first year, but I managed to do a lot in just one year of age restricted audits. I have bought some interesting products on my audits, my favourite being some sparklers just in time for Bonfire Night. I also experienced placing a bet for the first time and though it won’t exactly be a new hobby, it was a good way to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. Another benefit was travelling around my local area to do visits, heading to places I live close to but had never explored. This also meant the job got me outside and talking to people.
Auditing is a really flexible job which is especially useful when travelling between home & term time accommodation: there’s an area manager for every region so you can continue working wherever you are rather than being restricted to one site. With Serve Legal I completed audits in both London and the South East, whereas I could only pick up shifts at my part time job back home in the holidays.
It is a great start to a young person’s career and I highly recommend it. I only wish I’d applied sooner!
Skills for my future - 06/11/20 - by Lauren Foster (auditor)
Having been a member of the Serve Legal community for almost three years, the company has benefited me greatly throughout my time at university. From getting free online food shops to kitchenware, living away from home has become so much more affordable.
The jobs Serve Legal has to offer allowed me the chance to work flexibly around my degree and have a choice over when and where I work. The team at Serve Legal offer amazing support and encouragement with audits and are available most of the time to give guidance if there are any queries about a job.
Working with Serve Legal alongside going to university meant that I was able to earn whilst still prioritising my studies and social life. Through money I made doing audits, I managed to save enough to go skiing with my friends for the first time. As well as this, I saved a huge amount of money on weekly grocery shops (plus a fair bit of alcohol!)
The only thing I wish was different about my time with Serve Legal is that I started earlier, as there are also many opportunities for young adults between the ages of 16-17 to get involved with other types of audits. That being said, having started at 18 it has allowed me to gain excellent experience with self-management and communication skills, amongst other transferable skills for my future.
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, audits were limited due to many shops and bars being closed and delivery services only being available for the vulnerable. I got added to a very active Facebook group called the Serve Legal Community where area managers made weekly challenges and activities for prizes, allowing auditors to stay active and have something to look forward to during the pandemic. There were weekly photo challenges (I won £10 for making a comical Covid-19 mask) as well as activity evenings like online pub quizzes and FIFA tournaments. These were great things to get involved with as not only did it occupy some free time, but I got to make some good friends in the process.
I am so extremely grateful for my time with Serve Legal for giving me so many great opportunities and I really look forward to seeing what they have to offer in the future. If anyone is thinking about joining, I one thousand percent would recommend it, you won’t regret it.
A job that works - 30/10/20
Between revising for A-Levels, preparing for university interviews and playing for a Sunday league football team, I encountered the age-old problem of needing money to go out but not having enough time to both work to get that money and have the social life I craved in my final year at school.
Luckily for me, my football manager recommended that I applied for an auditor role at Serve Legal. So, as soon as I had my 18th birthday, I heeded his advice and through a quick and easy online process, I applied and successfully started as a Serve Legal auditor.
In this role, I was able to carry out very flexible work – with all the necessary help and support I needed from my brilliant Area Managers – auditing stores in my local area and beyond, if and when I had time. But best of all I was also given delivery audits from major online retailers! Meaning that during a year filled with lots hard work and important exams, I could also earn some money, and get plenty of freebies, whilst I was at home revising and my precious free time could be used to relax, watch TV, see my friends and go to parties (for which the alcohol purchases were useful!).
However, Serve Legal didn’t just help me by providing flexible work, it also gave me valuable experience in the world of work: teaching me how to plan and prepare for audits, learn how to write detailed and accurate reports for each audit and of course it introduced me to the wonderful world of receiving a regular payslip.
Almost two years later as a 2nd year university student, approaching the end of my time being able to complete age-restricted audits, in an economic climate where it is hard to find work or work experience, Serve Legal provided me with these valuable skills and a reliable and regular source of income, with work that I could complete “covid-securely” from the comfort of my own home and student accommodation.
Written by James, a London/Oxford-based auditor
New experiences - 23/10/20 - by Russell Bagot (auditor)
New experiences excite me, and my working with Serve Legal has felt like a challenging, enjoyable and rewarding experience. I look forward to learning what places my Area Manager is going to send me to each week that I'm available - they are the ones who allocate visits, and they're all really friendly. I've gotten to know quite a few, thanks to moving back and forth between uni and home, and also being open to work in areas a little further from where I live. This flexibility is one of the big perks of the job.
I'm actually writing this on the bus back home from a batch of audits I've just completed. Public transport journeys are one of the things that Serve Legal pay for, alongside the payment for each audit. As someone without a car, it's a great opportunity to explore your local area without having to worry about excessive transport costs, however they do contribute towards mileage for those with a car, and even pay towards miles cycled or ran! That's another great example of how flexible the job can be. Not to mention the fact that you can choose to take on as little or as much work as you need, depending on how busy you are or just how much you feel like doing.
At the start of the year, I was lucky enough to visit New York with some of my friends, just before lockdown restrictions closed in. My friends and I had a wonderful time, and I was so grateful that I was able to recoup much of the cost through my work with Serve Legal. The jobs I did with them felt really simple & straightforward, yet really helped alleviate the financial pressure following the trip. Although transatlantic getaways are unlikely to be happening any time soon, a job like this will go such a long way towards funding staycations or experiences. Get involved!
A job like no other - 16/10/2020 - by Catriona Jolley (auditor)
There is no better and more fitting way to describe my job with Serve Legal than the best thing that could have happened to me. Being familiar with the schedule of A-Levels, I found one of the hardest parts of lockdown was seeing myself lose motivation and ambition to get out of the house, explore, and achieve. I knew getting a job was the best thing for me, seeing as though I had no work between A-Levels finishing in March and starting University in late September, however, I was trying to avoid the typical nine to five.
I was looking for a job that would allow me to my keep social hours, time for rest and family, as well as pushing me to meet deadlines and manage my own work schedule. Serve Legal offers a one of a kind ‘self-employed’ feel that gives you freedom to work to your own limits whilst receiving 24/7 support and guidance from your area manager. From the first week I was given the opportunity to explore my local county, seeing new areas and getting new experiences. During times when I was preparing for university or on holiday, there was no shame in asking for time off; equally, when I had a few days spare there was always an abundance of work to keep me busy!
Besides flexibility, Serve Legal also prioritise the work of their employees with regular pay incentives and fun challenges. The Facebook community group is filled with helpful advice, as well as games/challenges such as sporting predictions or funny food competitions, with bonuses for the winners. The core team at Serve Legal make sure your work is always worth your time – travel expenses are covered for drivers and public transport, and they also aim to promote environmentally friendly transport with a cycling expenses scheme.
Most astoundingly, I have found I have been able to earn up to £20 an hour from work in my local area! As a result of this, I have been able to buy myself a laptop for university and save the spare money for my future aspirations. Aside from the great pay, this type of employment has very rarely seemed to be a ‘job’ and much more of an experience. Since moving across the country to university, work is still available and I now have the same opportunities in a new area of the country, once again allowing me to explore with travel costs paid for and my salary on top.
My employment with Serve Legal over the last few months has grown my independence and time management, my confidence in driving to new areas, my communication skills with employers and shop workers along with generously contributing ever to my savings as a young student. I would wholeheartedly endorse Serve Legal and all they stand for, to anyone who is looking to develop their CV.
Emerging from Lockdown into the New Normal -11/06/20
While chatting with our clients and auditors throughout the past few months, we’ve been relieved to hear that only a few experienced Coronavirus personally and all have made a full recovery.
I would like to say a big thank you on behalf of the team to all our clients and friends who have supported Serve Legal through the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Your messages of support and help have been warmly received and had a positive impact, enabling us to start re-emerging on a solid footing.
During the past couple of weeks we have amplified the re-engagement programme with our auditor community and with over fifty percent of clients resuming their age verification programmes in June and July, we are now able to offer our auditors regular work. Staying connected with our auditor community during lockdown was achieved by our bright and inventive Area Managers. They helped foster the Serve Legal Community spirit through various virtual activities such as Easter egg hunts, regular quiz-nights and Bingo. We have discovered numerous hidden talents exist amid our auditor community of 18 and 19-year olds, be they musicians with passions for a wide genre of music, jugglers, expert cake makers or artists living across the UK and Ireland; I can’t promise that we have the next MOBO, Mercury or British Bake off winner among us, but they have kept us and each other entertained. Some of the short surveys we have undertaken have provided an interesting window into the world of our loyal auditor community and the fantastic work and dedication of our Area Managers has allowed us to get back on our feet relatively quickly, though there is still a way to go.
Although time appeared to stand still for a while way back at the end of March and early April, birthdays have continued to be celebrated and some of our auditors turned twenty. With that, we are now busily recruiting throughout the UK and Ireland to allow us to return to the service levels we were delivering pre-Covid.
Of course, we acknowledge not everyone is back up and running and we very much hope circumstances improve dramatically for all of our hospitality, gaming and leisure clients. We look forward to all sectors re-establishing themselves and for their businesses to once again be thriving rather than surviving.
Like so many of you, we’ve not stood still during the enforced fallow period and instead took the opportunity to accelerate our investment in the new system and our technology, and we look forward to our clients benefiting from the improvements throughout the coming months.
In summary, we are back, and open to helping clients old and new to be as compliant as possible while also focused on adapting our services to meet your ever-changing needs and in doing so keeping the Serve Legal auditor community and your staff safe. The ‘new normal’ is here to stay for the foreseeable future; please be assured that the Serve Legal team and our vibrant community are up to the challenge.
To find out more about the how Serve Legal can help and support your business, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about becoming a Serve Legal auditor, email: email@example.com.
On moving to university, I wanted to combine study with paid work. Serve Legal needed experienced local auditors so I got in touch, picking up work straightaway, working flexibly around my timetable. By the end of my first year (2015), I was Highly Commended in the Auditor of the Year award.
Towards the end of my first year at uni, with 500+ audits completed, Serve Legal invited me to apply for an Assistant Coordinator role. This involved briefing new auditors, assigning and approving audits and providing holiday cover for an Area Manager, plus my audit work. Proud to have my potential recognised, I travelled to London for an interview with the management team. Going ‘behind the scenes’ at HQ was fascinating and they couldn’t have been friendlier. I was successful, starting my new role at an exciting time as the company celebrated its 10th anniversary.
After 12 months, my role evolved to Weekend Supervisor, managing the entire business’s weekend audit team and auditing quality control. It was fast-paced, and I enjoyed working with other young people who were balancing university life with work too. In just 18 months, I’d gained valuable work experience and been ‘thrown in at the deep end’, providing holiday cover for Area Managers, which was challenging but hugely beneficial for my confidence, understanding of the business and team-working skills.
In summer 2018, three years after starting as a Serve Legal auditor, I graduated from university. After applying for several graduate schemes and reaching final interviews, I realised that my ideal job was already on offer with Serve Legal, so I formally applied for a full-time role as a combined Area Manager and Client & Sales Assistant. The role came naturally after working in Operations and I enjoyed supporting new auditors, drawing on personal experience. The client-facing part of the role, however, was new territory. Talking to clients on the phone was exciting if daunting at first, but I quickly learned that Serve Legal’s reputation as a trusted service provider meant that conversations were friendly.
As a recent graduate, I was hugely grateful for the opportunity given to gain so much knowledge and experience. After nine months, I progressed to a Client & Sales Executive role, nurturing client relationships and supporting new business efforts. It’s been five non-stop years for me with Serve Legal and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’m still only 23, ambitious and looking forward to my next step. What a great place to start my career!
To find out more about becoming a Serve Legal auditor, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serve Legal’s reputation relies on the rigour and consistency of our auditors’ work and we have high expectations. Many join us with little or no work experience, but they move quickly into a world of compliance, trading standards and the law. The level of responsibility required goes beyond the expectations of other jobs typically taken at this age and they rise to the challenge. Technology is key for these digital natives and training, guidance and support are delivered via social media, video-sharing platforms and instant messaging. However, we haven’t forgotten the importance of human engagement and every auditor regularly speaks directly with their dedicated area manager, many of whom started out as fresh-faced 18 year old auditors themselves.
Operating remotely and flexibly from home, college or university, auditors take on audit work to suit their schedule and fit around commitments. To counter any sense of isolation or distance from our brand values, our employee engagement programme ensures that auditors feel motivated and part of a team doing important work. Excellent work is showcased through #ImpressEd, a Twitter-based initiative, and achievements are recognised with financial incentives. There is kudos in winning Auditor of the Month, Auditor of the Year, community and environmentally conscientious awards, in addition to a place in the Hall of Fame for exceptional performance.
We take the duty of care to our young colleagues seriously and have a network of regional area managers who mentor, motivate and support auditors at a local level. Despite having no physical premises aside from an administrative base in London, we have a strong sense of professionalism, camaraderie and corporate pride.
I find it hugely rewarding to see the transformation our auditors make from inexperienced teenagers at a crossroads in their education or early working life into confident, work-ready professionals. While the part-time and relatively short-term nature of contracts at Serve Legal means that we’re unable to offer apprenticeships, we nonetheless take our commitment to auditors’ career development and employability seriously.
Some of our auditors work for two years, others for months (average tenure is just under one year), but at the age of 20, most ‘retire’ because their apparent youth is vital to the credibility of our age-related audit services. On ‘retirement’, some transition into other audit services within the business such as sports media compliance and customer experience allergen auditing, and others progress into management positions. Some extend their education or go on to pursue successful careers elsewhere - we have lawyers, accountants and management consultants amongst our alumni. Auditors keep in touch, provide career updates and often seek opportunities to re-join the Serve Legal team.
The positive relationship we have with our auditors is mutually beneficial. They do an enjoyable, interesting job that fits around lifestyle, education or work commitments, and through which they develop confidence, independence and transferable skills to support future employability. We, the older, permanent members of staff, enjoy and benefit from the energy, tenacity and fresh thinking our auditors bring, not to mention the forcing of our hand to adopt ever advancing technologies.
During our 14 year history, 17,000+ teenagers have not only helped build a successful business but have contributed to a rise in compliance with the law by retailers all over the UK and Ireland. Without the audit programmes we deliver, I’m certain that harmful products would be more widely available to children. To Serve Legal auditors past, present and future, a heartfelt thank you.
Diet pills, also known as Appetite Suppressants or Fat Binders, are regulated by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority and, as such, are adult-only products unless directed otherwise by a GP or healthcare professional. Most carry minimum age recommendations on the product packaging. While it is not illegal to sell diet pills to young people, many retailers have voluntary codes in place to prevent underage sales. This means that they commit to asking young people to show photo evidence that they are 18 or older when trying to buy diet pills. Some operate a Challenge 21 or 25 policy in which anyone that looks under 21 or 25 trying to buy diet pills should be asked for proof that they are at least 18.
At Serve Legal, we work with retail clients all over the UK and Ireland to support their commitment to responsible retailing, helping them keep age-restricted products like alcohol, knives, tobacco and e-cigarettes out of the hands of children. We also help retailers independently audit their compliance with voluntary codes, such as that in place for sales of energy drinks to young people.
We viewed the Watchdog programme with concern and, six months on decided to carry out our own mystery shopper tests to see where we might be able to help retailers. Our 18-19 year old auditors were deployed to high streets in 10 towns and cities to buy diet pills from household name supermarkets, pharmacy chains and health stores, including those featured in the Watchdog investigation. Their experience showed that there is still room for improvement.
In 50% of audits, auditors bought diet pills unchallenged with no proof of age requested.
In 58% of audits, age restriction POS (e.g. Challenge 25) were not visible on or around the products.
Auditors found that point of sale materials, labelling and packaging were inconsistently applied across retailers, with some stores within the same organisation applying different standards. On occasion, staff wore Challenge 25 badges on their uniform and Challenge 25 stickers were displayed at check-outs, yet there was an absence of age restriction signs around the diet supplements on shelves.
In others, diet pills had additional packaging, security tags and labels stating that under 18s should only use the product under the supervision of a healthcare professional, but our auditors were able to buy them without being challenged for age ID. A number of pharmacies did advise the young auditors that before being permitted to purchase diet supplements, they would first need to have a consultation.
After the Watchdog exposé, the high street retailers in question told the BBC that they would improve operational practices, staff training, customer communication and signage, with one introducing a Challenge 25 policy. Six months down the line, our audit finds that while some retailers are actively taking steps to improve performance through internal initiatives, they may benefit and make swifter progress with the help of external support to check compliance.
With body confidence widely cited (Mental Health Foundation, Heads Together, Children’s Society et al) as a contributing factor in mental health problems amongst young people, some may be attracted to buying diet supplements.
Our audit findings are a reminder to retailers selling diet supplements to be vigilant, consistent and tough on age verification and staff training if they are to improve compliance with their voluntary codes. Independent auditing of their own performance is a great place to start.
To find out more about the how Serve Legal can help and support your business, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to email@example.com
The Gambling Commission licenses and regulates the people and businesses that provide gambling in Great Britain. It mandates that operators put policies in place to prevent underage gambling. Checking the age of customers at the point of entry and at the counter is a key responsibility and there are harsh consequences for those that facilitate underage gambling. The vast majority of bookmakers have adopted Think 21 or Think 25 policies under which staff must ask customers that look to be under 21 or 25 for proof that they are over 18.
To test the industry’s performance on age verification, Serve Legal runs independent audit programmes for the Gambling Commission, the ABB and individual bookmakers. With a community of 2,500 18-19 year-old auditors working in every part of the UK and Ireland, Serve Legal operates at scale, conducting over 150,000 audits a year. Auditors are deployed to bookmakers’ sites where they enter stores, place bets at the counter and/or use gaming machines. They record key information about the transaction, including whether photo ID was requested and if so when during the transaction; a description of the server; a betting receipt and other key facts, at times expanding to assess the quality of customer service and physical and emotional signs that a customer may be displaying distress related to gambling issues, the latter being an area that all bookmakers at the forum confirmed was high on their agenda. Sites where ID is requested in accordance with the organisation’s policies, pass the audit. Those that don’t, fail.
Within 24 hours of audits being completed, clients receive an accurate, reliable report. Our Account managers provide supportive, strategic recommendations based on audit results and Serve Legal delivers bespoke staff, management and operational training packages where requested. Many Serve Legal clients build its data into their shop floor training and in-store operational systems to improve performance and ensure they’re not breaking the law. Training may take the form of onsite, interactive presentations for varying numbers of staff from multiple sites who wish to improve their knowledge, awareness and compliance.
Meeting the Serve Legal team helps operators appreciate that its purpose is not to ‘catch anyone out’, but rather to support them in delivering against the promises they make to customers, the communities in which they operate, and the Gambling Commission, to prevent underage gambling.
Fortunately for bookmakers and shop staff that fail independent audits, Serve Legal’s mystery shoppers aren’t underage and no laws are broken. However, the implications of taking a lax approach to age verification represent a significant threat to the gambling industry’s stance on responsible retailing. Operators found by Trading Standards or the police to be sanctioning underage gambling face the risk of prosecution, fines for both operators and individual staff members, and possible business closure for a repeat offence.
Working with Serve Legal, bookmakers have improved their age verification audit pass rate every year for the last ten years, passing 89% of age check audits in 2019 - the highest average pass rate of any gambling retailer. Bookmakers are working extremely hard to prevent underage gambling and we’re here to support that effort across the entire gambling industry.
Serve Legal carries out independent auditing of betting shops, racetracks, adult gaming centres, bingo halls and AWPs on licensed premises.
To find out more about the how Serve Legal can help and support your business, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Developed in collaboration with food safety consultancy NT Assure, the Customer Experience Allergen Audit assesses how customers with allergies and dietary conditions are made to feel when eating out and how safe they believe they are when being guided by a brand’s information and staff. The audit helps food businesses evaluate and, where necessary, improve staff training, allergen labelling, communication and operational performance. It is designed to reduce risk, keep customers safe and improve their dining experience.
Posing as allergy sufferers, or in some instances, actual sufferers, Serve Legal’s community of 2,750 18-25 year old auditors will present without notice as customers at restaurants and cafes, bars and pubs, supermarkets and food-to-go counters across the UK and Ireland. They will:
Ask staff questions about food preparation, ingredients and cross-contamination.
Order and eat a meal or food-to-go item.
Observe hygiene ratings, the display of allergen information and table and seating cleaning practices.
Submit a report on the customer experience throughout which will be shared with the client within 48 hours.
Audits and trials are already underway with high street operators and retailers including Dunelm, Scotmid Co-operative and others.
Adam Rees, 27, has a severe allergy to nuts and peanuts with anaphylaxis. We spoke to him about his experience of eating out.
“Recent tragic cases have highlighted the challenges that people like me face. When eating out, I always ensure that the person taking my order is aware of my allergies. I have experienced some amazing restaurants and procedures, but the vast majority have a long way to go to fully embrace and embed a proper allergy procedure. Many establishments feel that a printed grid stating which allergens are in which foods is satisfactory. However, they are often out of date and list only what the meal is meant to contain rather than ancillary ingredients used in the preparation or cooking of the food.”
My best food-service allergy experiences are where a staff member has made me feel at ease from the get-go. Serve Legal and NT Assure’s audit is a huge step in the right direction. If it helps move the food industry - whether small establishments or major players - forward, it will be worth every penny of investment to reduce the risk of other deaths.
To find out more about the Customer Experience Allergen Audit, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to email@example.com