Dorset Council has become the first in the country to issues licenses for businesses wanting to employ people aged 13 to 16.

The council has replaced its paper-based Child Work Permit process with a new digital system.

Traditionally, the process was "time-consuming and fraught with potential problems," the council said. The application was managed by the child, who shuttled it between the employer, their parents and their school.

Dorset Council's licensing team had also reportedly become "overwhelmed" by paper processes.

Key local employers of children, who now manage the permit applications, were engaged in the redesign of the process. Child work permits in Dorset can now be processed in hours rather than weeks.

Admin team leader Wendy Bradley said: "Our aim is for no child in Dorset to be employed without a licence and the associated workplace checks which ensure that the environment and employment is suitable.

"Businesses feel more in control and tell us it’s an improved experience."

Dorset Council is now planning to introduce a Child Employer Award to engage local employers, raise the profile of the service and promote the legal duty to have a permit before employing young people.