As we pack the children off after the Easter break a little lighter of pocket once again, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that at my daughters age, 11 (almost 12), I had a Saturday job.  Considering we were born of the generation where children were (supposedly) sent up chimneys to earn a crust, having a little Saturday job was a walk in the park back then.

On reflection, that just sounds really odd and the thought of my daughter doing the same now – well it just wouldn’t and couldn’t happen.  Or could it?

It certainly did back then.  And it has made me wonder just how old you do have to be to get a Saturday job now?




My First Saturday Job


I remember my joy at securing a Saturday job on an underwear stall in an undercover market. Working from 8.00 until 5.30 for a whopping £8 per day.  This was to be my first foray into the world of work and earning a salary.

My joy was to be short lived (or short changed as it turned out).   On my first day upon discovering that I was 11, the manager did what all good and ethical employers did back then. She reduced my pay by half to £4.


Personal Pension Review


My parents were livid on hearing this, but I insisted on staying against their will.  I had big plans for my £4.  And I guess therein lies a conundrum.  For me it was extra money over and above pocket money.  In the absence of the Bank of Mum & Dad, it was the way forward.

I duly continued with my reduced pay and was left alone on the stall for most of the day serving customers, taking their payments, using a credit card machine and I spent my down time tidying and rearranging the stock to entice more customers.  It was a bit of a baptism by fire but I was in my element and rushed off my feet providing ample bosomed women with garments to suit their shape and style – aged 11!

I’d love to say there was a happy ending here.  But there wasn’t with this particular business!   After several weeks of hard graft, I was handed my £4 at the end of the day and told that the owners friend was replacing me and not to bother coming back.  I wasn’t cut out for the job.

We will never know why – perhaps I’d misjudged some 40DD’s along the way or given someone too much change!   Perhaps there was no reason at all.  Either way, it happened!

The ‘old school’ of hard knocks put pay to the crepe skirt and blouse combo purchases from Petticoat Lane for a while but back up the chimney I went in search of gold!


Every Cloud and all that ……..




As luck would have it, there was actually a silver lining waiting in so far as I immediately secured a much better Saturday and holiday job.   It was in my next Saturday job that I spent many happy teenage years right through to and beyond starting full time employment.  I also had a couple of other jobs that I did part-time too.  These were probably the richest days of my life.  I had more part-time jobs than Kelly Girl.

Of course, this would never be allowed to happen now.  I assume there are strict laws in place to prevent unscrupulous employers like the underwear stall exploiting young people.  Rightly so.  But it does also mean that our teens miss out on the fun part of ‘having a little job’ and a little bit of independence and responsibility.

But whichever way you look at this experience, it was a learning journey and one that I was to build on.

I have lovely memories of my part-time jobs, the laughs, the experience, the earning and the camaraderie with the colleagues.  A few quid in the hand at the end of the day may as well have been millions.  It meant that I could purchase and participate in things that I may not otherwise have been able to.  What more could a fashion conscious teenagers want?!

These little jobs also prepared us for the world of work.  Bigger and better jobs and better things became the main prize as this new found independence and aspiration soared.

I think it’s a shame that young people miss out on these little experiences.  And this also got me to wondering about what age young people are actually ‘legally’ allowed to work now.   Out of curiosity, I started doing a little investigation.  Just as well really as I was then asked by my daughter if she was allowed to have a little job.

This can only mean that a) I’m either very transparent or b) she reads over my shoulder but in any event this may be of interest to you if you have children similar in age to ours.

I share my findings below.


How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a Saturday Job?


The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13 (unless they are in television, theatre or modelling).

A child of 13 can only be employed to do what is considered ‘light work’ which would therefore preclude them from working in many places.  This would also depend on any local by-laws.

Term time rules

During term time children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • a maximum of 5 hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds

School holiday rules

During school holidays 13 to 14-year-olds are only allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During school holidays 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

Source :


Also, children under 16 do not pay National Insurance.

Further, school aged children are not entitled to minimum wage until they are 16.  I guess this is the bit we need to watch as parents.


Or Do We All Need a Stint with the School of Hard Knocks?


Having and getting a Saturday job was all part of an experience for me.  I’m sure you will have a similar tale of endeavours?  But it does make me wonder, as a parent myself now, whether it is too easy for us to get a ‘little too involved here’.  I ask this question from the perspective of not having formed an answer yet.  But, notwithstanding safety and giving our best advice, is this a path that our young people need to tread as they make their way in the world?





I imagine it would have taken every bone in my parents body not to have stepped in and ‘saved me’ during ‘Underwear Stall Gate’.  They were, as are we, people with a strong sense of right and wrong.  Had they done so, I know that I would have been a furious 11 year old.  It would have taken away my independence and the sense of doing something for myself.  My thing.

It is with this in mind that I wonder whether we need to give our children a little more autonomy and opportunity when the time arises.  I guess the School of Hard Knocks is the exact opposite of the ‘Snowflake’ perspective.

Is there a right way?

Do you have a view on this.

As always, I love to hear your thoughts.  For and against.







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