Once upon a time it was fairly easy to pick up a part-time job in your teens. A healthy supply of paper rounds, waitressing and 'Saturday girl or boy' roles could be found to fund purchases of the latest LP/ CD (depending on your age), or saving for that post sixth form Inter-railing trip.
Now paper rounds seem to have fallen from favour and Saturday jobs in retail or leisure are less forthcoming than they once were. Some of the traditional options remain - babysitting for instance - but modern kids are having to turn to modern jobs, with the internet at the heart of the new opportunities and The Apprentice and Dragon's Den fueling a generation of junior business men and women.
Take the example of young super-entrepreneur Ollie Forsyth, 17, who started an online gift shop at the age of only 13, bringing in a turnover of £13,000 a year even at that tender age. He's also dabbled in selling produce from his parents' vegetable patch, washing cars and a school tuck shop that turned over an impressive £7,000 a year. Ollie has now left school and started at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and hopes to make his first million by age 20. With his various pursuits including a magazine for like-minded types called The Budding Entrepreneur, we can well believe he'll manage it too.
Even for those teenagers with more modest ambitions - perhaps a couple of extra tenners a week - there's much they can do to get earning.
Here are 10 ideas, from traditional to internet-fuelled, and a few 'need to know' points.
And remember as a bonus, on top of the cash, working part-time will build confidence, boost self-esteem and look good on any college or job applications to boot.
Rules on children and teens working
Even after their 13th birthday there are restrictions on when and where young people can work until they reach official school leaving age (the last Friday in June of the academic year they turn 16). Some of the most significant rules are that they must not:
- work before 7am or after 7pm, or during school hours in term time;
- work for more than one hour before school (you will need to check local by-laws though as there might be exceptions – if in doubt ring your council for advice);
- work for more than four hours in a row without taking at least a one hour break;
- work in betting shops, in most roles in pubs or in an environment that could be; detrimental to their health, education or well-being (we're guessing a Saturday job down the local nuclear power plant is probably out then).
How many hours can they work?
Limits vary between term time and holidays and by age group so bear with us if this gets a bit complicated.
In term time, those of compulsory school age must not work for more than two hours on a Sunday and five hours daily on other days, and no more than a total of 12 hours a week.
In the holidays things get more relaxed:
13- and 14-year-olds can work a maximum of 25 hours weekly, with no more than 5 hours per weekday or Saturday and no more than 2 on a Sunday.
15- and 16-year-olds can put in a 35 hour week with no more than 8 hours daily apart from Sundays, where again there's a 2 hour limit.
How much should they get paid?
There is no minimum wage for this age group so it really is between them and their employer if they take on a conventional job. Of course if they're looking at 'self-employed' activities, then the sky's the limit: they might make thousands, nothing, or worse still a loss if they've incurred costs. Small business men and women should proceed with caution and plenty of parental involvement!
What do employers of young people need to know or do?
As well as the working hour restrictions, those employing under 16s should check whether their local council requires them to get a work permit – some do. The council's education or education welfare service can advise or you might find information about this on their website.
Anything else to consider?
With the pressures of revision and exam stress mounting up for today's kids, balancing jobs with school work can be problematic and indeed some secondary schools actively discourage pupils from getting jobs in term time. Realistically, they're unlikely to be able to stop your teen from working out of school hours but it would of course be sensible to avoid jeopardising their exam performance by sticking with jobs that won't get in the way.
10 ideas for pocket money boosters:
1. Making something to sell – obviously this requires a teenager to have a modicum of skill as well as some business nouse. Arty types could craft hand-made greetings cards which can be sold at craft or school fairs on on Etsy or Ebay. Jewellery is a good move too, although it probably needs to be a little more unusual than their old loom band bracelets.
How about a pop-up bakery? This sounds grand but it could simply involve marketing prettily-decorated fairy or birthday cakes to family and friends. The food writer Rose Prince's children had much success baking sourdough and selling it locally at weekends - their story could prove inspiring. They set up at the ages of 14 and 11 and ended up with a pop-up in Fortnum and Mason.
2. Buying something to sell – one for the less risk-averse entrepreneurs as this involves the purchasing of stock and if they get it wrong, that could be a costly mistake. Get it right though and this can be very profitable - see the example of Ollie Forsyth above. Many schools will not take kindly to pupils flogging their wares about the grounds, so look at pitches in local markets or boot sales or go online instead. Paypal will be a good bet for payments but again, some parental involvement in all of this would be wise given the potential problems.
3. Sports coaching and holiday camp helping – many sports courses and children's activities need extra help in the holidays or after school. Teenagers who are active sports players might be able to get a basic qualification and then work on a regular basis.
In tennis, the LTA's level 1 Coaching Assistant course involves three separate days of training plus three hours' coaching 'on-the-job' between the three days. This then opens the door to paid work with coaches in clubs on weekends, afternoons and in the holidays when group lessons for younger kids run. The minimum age for the course is 16. Other sports offer similar schemes and many will also lead to opportunities to work abroad in a gap year or to make a career out of coaching.
4. Babysitting. There aren't any laws about a minimum age for babysitters but the NSPCC does suggest parents "think carefully about using anyone under 16". Younger teens can still get work and build experience, perhaps entertaining small children or helping with babies when their parents are in the house but need to get on with other things. Put a shout out on Facebook and see if there are any frazzled new mum and dad friends desperate for an extra pair of hands or even someone to help with homework. Over 16s can look to get evening work and sometimes, once children are safely in bed this can double as exam revision time.
5. Dog walking or cat sitting. Responsible types with some experience of dogs or cats need only apply here but this can be a flexible way to make some additional cash and should be enjoyable for animal lovers. The timing can work well too as cat owners might be more likely to be away in the main school holidays. They will need to leave homeowners feeling confident that they will lock the house up securely after each visit.
Dog walking could be done for an hour or so at the weekends or after school, or a teen could dog sit for a family looking to go out for the day somewhere their canine chum isn't allowed.
6. Washing cars. Easy to do and especially popular over the summer when cars tend to get muckier during dry spells. Perhaps do a dry run (make that a wet run...) at home on your own car to train them up and check it will be worth others paying for, before they offer the service locally.
7. V-logging and blogging. One word of inspiration here: Zoella. The v-logger blogger has made her career and a mint out of this. Under 16s should check with parents before getting started and it would be sensible for an adult to keep a very close eye on reader comments and interactions, plus children should avoid disclosing anything too personal. Revenue comes from ad sales and there's the scope for reviewing products or services once a readership has built up - although bloggers must state if they received something for free. Check out kidsblogclub.com for more advice.
8. Market research - companies sometimes need young people's views about planned new products or services - anything from toys to food. Look for agencies and consultancies which work to the Market Research Society's guidelines for research with children.Guardians will usually need to attend with under 16s though so this can be time-consuming for parents.
9. Website design – if you've a techno-savvy and literate child on your hands, they could design websites for family friends and relatives who have small businesses; perhaps that uncle who's a painter and decorator or the older cousin with a hairdressing salon. Lots of small companies still don't have sites or need theirs updating and will appreciate (and pay) for even a simple design.
10. Shop jobs
Saturday girl or boy jobs in major retailers' stores are fewer and further between but that doesn't mean they're impossible to find. Smaller independent shops, and particularly those owned by family or friends can be a better bet than big chains. Again, ask around and use Facebook or other social media to put a shout out for anyone happy to take on a young helper.
What do your teenagers do to boost their pocket money? Are they less likely to find a job than you were at that age?
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