Restrictions and benefits of teenage jobs

Oct 2012
20% of UK teenagers have Saturday jobs.

Despite children being able to work from the age of 13, the number of teens in Saturday jobs has decreased from 40% in the 1990's to 20% now (UK Commission for Employment and Skills). But with recruiters placing significant emphasis on experience, these 20% are developing key life-skills and necessary funds for their future. So, what hours are teenagers allowed to work and what benefits can this bring?

Children are legally allowed to work in the UK from the age of 13, though there are many restrictions on hours and minimum wage will not come into effect until children reach their 16th birthday.

Between the ages of 13 and 14, children can only work after 7am and before 7pm, and for up to a maximum of two hours on a school day. On Saturdays children can work up to five hours between 7am and 7pm and on Sundays children are able to work for up to two hours between 7am and 11am.

During term time (including weekends), a child aged 13 to 14 can work up to a maximum of 12 hours a week and during school holidays children of this age can work up to a maximum of 25 hours per week.

15 and 16-year-olds in the UK are allowed to work for up to eight hours on Saturdays and up to a maximum of 35 hours during school holidays. Once a teenager has reached 16 they are classed as a young worker and can therefore work up to 40 hours a week or up to eight hours a day.

Working can provide children with:

  • increased independence and a sense of responsibility

  • a positive attitude to team work

  • key work-skills such as customer service, time-keeping and prioritising

  • money management skills

  • preparation for full-time employment

  • money to spend on their favourite past-times
It can be difficult for teenagers to juggle school work and extracurricular activities as well as a job. It is important that teenagers still get adequate sleep and have the time and environment to concentrate on their school work. When the correct balance is found, a combination of excellent school results and work-place skills can contribute greatly to a child realising their potential in the future.