Under 16 and want to work?

When you reach the age of 13, it’s natural to start thinking about becoming more independent and earning your own money.

If you want to work part-time you have to be aged 13 or over. This is a matter of law and is set out in the Children and Young Persons Act.

You can work in television, theatre and performance if you are under 13, but you need a special performance licence, which has to be given by your local education authority. Have a look at the ‘Who Can Help?’ section of this article to find out more.

You can work before or after school, on a Saturday or during the school holidays, but there are some conditions that have to be met:-

  • You can’t work before 7am or after 7pm and you must have a break every four hours that you work.
  • If you’re under 16, you can only work if you’ve registered for a work permit. To get a permit your application form must be signed by your parent or carer. Your employer will then apply for a work permit for you.
  • The permit is designed to protect children and young people at work, who are not automatically covered by things like health and safety laws otherwise.
  • If you want paid work in television, theatre or modelling, you need to get a performance licence from the local authority.
  • There are limitations on the types of job you can do when you’re under 16. You can’t work in hazardous areas such as building sites or places with heavy machinery, you can’t drive or ride vehicles or machinery (including farm machinery) and you can’t work in a betting office, serve alcohol or work on a ship.

The law is there so you don’t work in places that may be harmful to your health and there are strict rules about what you can and can’t do at different ages.

It’s also important to remember that, no matter what the law says, you shouldn’t work more hours than you can cope with. It’s nice to earn your own money, but if a part- time job starts getting in the way of school work or studying then you might need to think about cutting down your hours.

If you’re 13 or 14 …

On school days you can only work up to two hours a day, one hour before school and one hour after school.

On Saturdays, you can work up to five hours and two hours on a Sunday.

In the school holidays you can work up to five hours a day but no more than 25 hours in a week.

For two weeks in the school holiday, you cannot work at all… so put your feet up!

If you’re 15 or 16 …

On school days you can only work up to two hours a day, one hour before school and one hour after school.

On Saturdays, you can work up to eight hours and two hours on a Sunday.

In the school holidays you can work up to eight hours a day, but no more than 35 hours in a week.

For two weeks in the school holiday, you cannot work at all … so you can have a rest after all that hard work!

There are lots of places you can try for work, shops, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels often employ young people.

If you don’t mind getting up early, have you thought about doing a newspaper round? You could also consider delivering leaflets.

When working and travelling to and from work think about your personal safety. How you will get there – is there reliable public transport or can an adult take you and pick you up?

Any experience of working life will give you skills for the future – for example, working in a shop gives you skills such as working with the general public, handling money, communication skills, punctuality and customer service skills.

Even baby sitting or looking after your neighbour’s pets shows that you are responsible and trustworthy and remember these ’employers’ may be willing to give you a reference that will help when you apply for other jobs.

If you are a disabled young person and want to go into work, there might be a few extra things for you to consider. It’s best to talk with other disabled people who can tell you the sort of things to expect once you are working.

In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be the case but in reality it’s useful to go into work knowing as much practical advice as possible.

There is a great deal of information on the subject of work elsewhere and on the internet and there are several points that most people agree on:

  • Because the barriers to thriving in the workplace are different for every disabled person, it is usually a matter of gradual learning, both for the employer and the disabled worker. Don’t expect everything to be perfect from day one.
  • Be assertive but not aggressive in asking for support. There is often a level of ‘give and take’ needed.
  • Be open about impairment, disability and barriers.
  • Use all avenues of support at your disposal – colleagues, family, friends, employers, managers, Jobcentre Plus ‘Access to Work’, trade unions and organisations of and for disabled people – it is important to be independent but part of doing that successfully is knowing when to ask for help!

So, any work you get will be useful, but if you have a particular career in mind, then think about getting a part time job related to this.

Don’t forget that if you want to get a full time job, you have to have left school first. If you are 16, you need to wait to leave school until the last Friday in June.

Who can help?

Ask around – talk to your friends and family to see if they know of any opportunities. Place an advert in your local shop or produce some cards to deliver to your neighbours.

Remploy Interwork is the specialist recruitment division of Remploy Ltd, the UK’s largest provider of jobs for disabled people. The whole Remploy site is packed with helpful advice and information and can be found at http://www.remploy.co.uk

Find out about children and young people’s work rights by visiting the Work Smart website.

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