Help your child find a nice little earner

With children increasingly desperate to own the latest must-have gadget or computer game, it's not surprising they want to start earning their own money. Research shows that over 40% of children take on a job while still in education, working an average of 14 hours a week outside school or college.

Allowing your child to take on a part-time job will not only take the pressure off your finances, encouraging your child to start earning money will teach them how to manage their own money, gain independence and develop important social skills.

Whatever work option your child goes for you'll naturally want to ensure they aren't being exploited, so it's important for all parents to get wise to the rules and regulations for child employment.

Rules and regulations

Under the Children and Young Persons Act (1933) children up to the age of 16 can only be employed to carry out 'light work'. This is defined as tasks and working conditions which are not harmful to the safety, health or development of children - and would not compromise their education.

As a general rule children must be at least 14 to have a job, although children who are 13-years-old can be employed to do occasional light work. Every local council has a list of jobs that children of 13 can do - which tend to include delivering newspapers, shop work (usually stacking shelves), assisting in hairdressing salons, washing cars, working at riding stables and in cafes and restaurants - but not in kitchens.

Children under 13-years-old cannot work - although local authorities can grant licences to allow younger children to take part in paid performances, sports and modelling. The licences will only be granted if the local authority is satisfied that the child is fit to undertake the work; that proper provision has been made for the child's health and that their education will not suffer.

Children, who are not allowed to work, can earn extra pocket money by helping out around the home. A good idea is to assign a value to each chore according to the work involved - for example, £1 for setting and clearing the dinner table and £2.50 for cleaning the car. Keep a note of the chores they do on a chart so they can see how the money builds up and give them a 'pay packet' at the end of the week.

This will help your children understand the value of money from a young age. And if they want something expensive, they'll either work hard and save their money to buy it or go off the idea when they realise what they need to do to earn it. Either way they'll learn to understand that money doesn't grow on trees.

Proper employment

When children reach 14 they can be employed properly, although there are a number of restrictions. Working hours are restricted to a maximum of two hours a day on school days, but not outside the hours of 7am-7pm or during school hours. The two-hour rule also applies on Sundays. On Saturdays or during school holidays 14-year-olds can work a maximum of five hours a day but must have breaks after four hours. Total working hours are restricted to 12 hours a week during term time and 25 hours a week during holidays.

Children of 15 or 16 who have not reached school-leaving age face similar working restrictions to 14-year-olds. However, at 15 a child can work up to eight hours a day on a weekday during school holidays or Saturdays and for up to 35 hours a week out of term time. All children up to the age of 16 must have at least two consecutive non-school weeks a year without work under the Children and Young Persons Act (1933).

According to the trade union-backed Work Smart there are certain jobs that children of any age are prohibited to do. A list of these will also be available from your local council, but it generally includes street trading; serving alcohol; door-to-door charity collecting; working in petrol stations, betting shops, telesales, or in any industrial setting such as a factory or building site.

These regulations are intended to protect your children from unscrupulous employers and ensure that paid work doesn't interfere with their school work. You may also want to lay down some ground rules. Try setting aside two week nights and Sundays for homework and cutting down on working hours during exams.


How much can your child expect to earn? Well, in conventional jobs - unfortunately not much because the national minimum wage doesn't apply to children under 18. Paper rounds for example, can be pretty hard work - they require children to get up early and cycle or walk to deliver papers for just £2.50 a day.

Sweeping up hair and making tea in a hairdressing salon can earn about £2 an hour, and a similar rate can be expected from waiting on tables in a cafe or restaurant - although there's the opportunity that tips and meals might be thrown in. So if your child works the maximum 12 hours a week for £2, they could take home around £24.

Odd jobs like washing cars offer more room to negotiate a wage depending on how savvy your child is and how generous their customers are.

Babysitting can be a tricky way to earn money, although the earning potential could top £25 for a whole evening. Babysitting remains a grey area - when parents employ a babysitter they are entrusting them with the care of their child, and the babysitter has little legal protection.

The law does not specify a minimum age at which young people can babysit - but a recommended age of 16 is generally thought of as a guideline. Under that age, the responsibility of the child remains with the parents (not the babysitter) and they can be charged themselves should any harm come to their child.

There are further creative ways in which children can make money, so encourage your child to think outside the box and look at their hobbies and skills. The working regulations no longer apply if children are effectively working for themselves.

Moneywise is campaigning for personal finance to be included on the National Curriculum. You can show your support by signing our petition on the Prime Minister's website.

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