What age can you start working?

You’re lusting over those new trainers or that new X-Box game and your parents won’t get it for you? It’s time to look at getting a job. Even if you’re still at school there are ways that you can earn an extra bit of pocket money that don’t involve cleaning out the rabbit for a couple of quid from your parents. Here is everything you need to know about how and when you can enter the world of work.

The absolute earliest you can start working is 13 and you can only work part-time, with the exact hours depending on your age. During term-time under 15s can work a maximum of 12 hours a week, perfect for a paper round. Let’s break down exactly how and when you can work these hours:

Under 15s can work:

In Term Time: up to 12 hours a week

  • Up to 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • Up to 5 hours on Saturdays

In School Holidays: up to 25 hours a week

  • Up to 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays 
  • Up to 2 hours on Sundays

15-16 year olds can work:

In Term Time: up to 12 hours a week

  • Up to 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • Up to 8 hours on Saturdays

In School Holidays: up to 35 hours a week

  • Up to 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays 
  • Up to 2 hours on Sundays

However, you won’t be able to:

  • Work before 7am or after 7pm, 
  • Work for more than 4 hours a day without an hour break,
  • Work during school hours,
  • Work without a break of at least 2 weeks a year,
  • Work in places like a factory or industrial site or anywhere that may be harmful to your health or,
  • Work for more than one hour before school starts.

There are specific cases where you may be able to find work earlier than 13, if you fancy yourself as a model or an actor, but you’ll need your parents’ permission.

If you’re looking for a full-time job you’ll need to be the minimum school leaving age, after you’ve left school you can work up to 40 hours a week. The age you can leave school will vary depending on where you live. In England, you’ll have to stay in full-time education, apprenticeship or training until you’re 18. If you’re from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you can leave school when you turn 16. 

You have to be of at least school leaving age to be legally entitled to minimum wage, which is set at £4.20 for those under 18, and £3.70 for apprentices. However, even if you’re not at school leaving age, asking for the minimum wage is a good place to start. A good employer should be happy to meet your demands, if you’re not sure, ask an adult you trust if they think you’re being paid fairly for the work you’re doing.

There’s a lot of jobs you can do when you’re still at school, check out local shops or signs in your local area to see who is hiring for small jobs you might be suitable for. These might be:

  • A paper round
  • Dog walking
  • Pet sitting
  • Dishwashing or collecting glasses
  • Odd jobs, cleaning cars, mowing grass etc.
  • Working in a family business

Post by Olivia Greaves

Olivia is a Politics student at the University of Southampton. Follow her on twitter @oiiviagreaves (https://twitter.com/oIiviagreaves)