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Workin’ it: betty’s guide to getting a part-time job

In a perfect world, rose gold accessories would fall out of the sky and Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes would be given away in cereal boxes, but here we are. Sure, they say the best things in life come for free, but the fact is, the good stuff needs to be paid for – which is why you might be thinking it’s time to get a part-time job.

A part-time job is a great way to earn money and get CV-friendly experience, plus – let’s be honest – it gives you something to do during the holidays (a fortnight-long Netflix binge sounds ace in theory, but it gets a bit boring after a while, especially once you’ve rinsed your favourite shows and finished all the snacks).

But before you jump into the world of work, make sure you’re up to speed with the law and your rights. Here’s what you need to know.

What jobs can I do?

Your age has a lot to do with the sort of job you can have.

If you’re under 14… you’re not allowed to work unless it involves entertainment, such as advertising, films or modelling. You’re allowed to do odd jobs for family or neighbours though, and you can also do babysitting if your parents and the child’s parents are happy that you’re responsible enough.

If you’re between 14 and school leaving age (FYI: you can legally leave school on the last Friday of June in the school year you turn 16) the only places you’re not allowed to work are in pubs and betting shops, in factories, on construction sites, in transport and on merchant ships (not that there are many jobs going for teenagers on merchant ships anyway).

If you’re between 16 and 18… you can work in these places but there are some restrictions on the kind of duties you can do. When it comes to health risks, such as coming into contact with chemicals and toxic materials (in a factory, for example) you’re only allowed to do the job if it’s necessary and an experienced person is supervising you.

Waitressing is a pretty common Saturday/holiday job, but don’t let worries about handling alcohol put you off applying for a job at your fave restaurant. The law says that 16-18 year-olds can serve alcohol if it’s sold to be drunk with a meal, and it’s served in a part of the premises used only for that purpose.

How much should I be paid?

Annoyingly there’s no National Minimum Wage for workers under 16, so it’s up to your employer to decide how much to pay you. You could ask your friends with jobs how much they’re getting, which should give you a rough idea of the going rate in your area. Plus, there’s always the opportunity for a bit of haggling!

If you’re between school-leaving age and 18, the Minimum Wage is £4.05 per hour, rising to £5.60 if you’re between 18 and 20, £7.05 if you’re between 21 and 24, and going up to £7.50 once you’re 25 or over.

If you’re taking part in an apprenticeship, you’re entitled to £3.50 per hour.

How many hours can I work?

Again, things get a little complicated depending on your age.

If you’re school-age, the basic rules say that you can’t work:

During school hours

Before 7am or after 7pm

For more than one hour before school

For more than four hours without a break of at least one hour

In pubs and betting shops

Without having a full two-week break from work during the school holidays once each year

Then there are rules for working during term-time. The most you can work in one week during term time is 12 hours, including:

A maximum of five hours on Saturdays if you’re 13 or 14, or a maximum of eight hours if you’re 15 or 16.

A maximum of two hours on school days and Sundays

But the rules are a little different during the school holidays. If you’re between 13 and 14, you’re allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week during the holidays, including:

A maximum of five hours on weekdays and Saturdays

A maximum of two hours on Sunday

If you’re 15-16, you can work up to 35 hours a week including;

A maximum of eight hours on weekdays and Saturdays

A maximum of two hours on Sunday.

If you’ve left school but are under 18, you can work a maximum of eight hours a day, up to 40 hours a week, but you need to have at least 12 hours’ rest between each working day, and at least a 30-minute break when you work for more than four and half hours.

Got all that? Maybe write it down.

Do I get any benefits?

Under-16s get a bit of a raw deal when it comes to things like sick pay and holidays, as there are no laws about this – employers don’t have to give you time off, paid or otherwise. But that said, a decent boss should be considerate when it comes to illness or time off for family events and special occasions, and most bosses understand you might need fewer hours around exam time.

If you’ve left school and are under 18, you’re entitled to paid holiday just like any other worker. This adds up to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year. To figure out your holiday allowance, just multiply 5.6 by the number of days you work in a week (so if you work five days a week, it’s 5.6 x 5, which gives you 28 lovely paid days off).

You’ll also be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you’re sick for at least four days in a row, providing you earn at least £113 a week (before tax).

How do I find a job I actually *like*?

Part-time jobs for teenagers tend to fall into one of two categories: retail and hospitality.

Fair enough, these might not be your dream career industries but there are plenty of options out there that could help with your future ambitions – you just have to think outside the box a bit. Interested in writing? Ask at your local library if they need help shelving and sorting books (and make the most of the new arrivals on your break!). Fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie? Apply for a kitchen job at a fancy restaurant and learn from the chefs as they cook up a storm. Fantasising about working in fashion? A job at your favourite clothes store could give you a valuable look behind the scenes at how things are done.

Lots of jobs are advertised online, but many people get part-time jobs through word of mouth, or simply by asking! You’ve nothing to lose by asking local businesses if there are any positions available – after all, most bosses appreciate the initiative.

Good luck!


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