A brief guide to finding a job and earning money in the UK

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Legal age to start work in the UK

Young people can work and earn money from the age of 13, but there are laws about how many hours you can work and when. 16 year olds over school-leaving age are classed in the 16-18 category. 16 year olds under the school-leaving age are in the 13-16 category. Young people are over school-leaving age when they are 16 from the last Friday in June.

If you are aged between 16 and 18 there are rules about the sort of work you can do. You are not allowed to be employed in work that may have a negative effect on your physical or mental health because of toxic chemicals, extreme temperatures or physical exertion. There are exceptions if the work is necessary for your training, you are adequately supervised and risks are minimal.

If you are aged 16 to 18 you cannot legally work for longer than 8 hours in a 24 hour period, or for more than 40 hours a week. You are entitled to a 30 minute break when you work for more than 4 and a half hours.

13 to 16 year olds are not allowed to work during school hours and can work for a maximum of 12 hours a week during term time. During school holidays you can work for a maximum of 25 hours a week if you are aged 13-14, and 35 hours if you are aged 15-16. There are very strict rules about when young people aged under 16 can work. You cannot work during school hours and may only work for up to two hours on a school day or a Sunday. You also cannot work for more than 8 hours during holidays or Saturdays.

For more information about employment law regarding children and young people see the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

Minimum wage

The minimum wage you are entitled to receive depends on how old you are. If you are under 16 you are not entitled to a minimum wage. For up-to-date information see the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. 

Finding a job

Applying for jobs and going to interviews may seem like a daunting prospect but there is a lot of help out there for job seekers. First, have a think about what you would like from your job. Is it just to make some money while studying, or are you looking for a future career? Where are you able to travel to for work? How much money do you ideally need to earn? Once you have an idea about the sort of work you would like it is easier to begin the search.

Prospects has a quiz to help you find your ideal career, detailed job descriptions, vacancies and information about graduate training schemes. It also gives lots of advice about completing application forms, interviews and skills tests.

Job vacancies are listed on lots of different websites including Universal JobmatchThe Guardian and Indeed.

Additional information