When Should My Teen Get a Job?

Some parents put their teens right to work the moment they turn 16. Others wait until senior year to even entertain thoughts about part-time jobs. As you consider your teen’s situation, personality and maturity level, keep this in mind when determining if he or she is ready to start working:

What is There to Gain?When should your teen get their first job

Whether it’s working as a student clerk at the mayor’s office or flipping burgers at the local diner, a part-time job can teach your teen many valuable skills. Among those are responsibility, time and money management, people and team-player skills, independence and self-confidence. Plus, any work experience can help build your teen’s resume, which will be important when applying for college or living university life. As your teen gets used to earning paycheck after paycheck, it’s likely he or she will have a better grasp on the value of money and take more thought when spending (or asking) for spare change.

What is There to Lose?

Many parents may worry that with sports, volunteering, school and other activities, working part-time is too much for their teen. Others have concerns about workplace safety and bad influences or real-world exposure. For example, there were an annual average of 795,000 nonfatal work injuries among young U.S. workers between 1998 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Evaluate your teen’s maturity level— not just his or her age— before deciding whether he or she is ready to start working part-time.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Does your teen get him or herself out of bed in the morning?
  • Can your teen admit to mistakes? Accept criticism?
  • Does he or she work well with others?
  • Does your teen practice good manners and respect authority?
  • How does your teen respond to peer pressure?
  • Does your teen dress well and practice good hygiene?
  • How organized and responsible is your teen?

The Ultimate Decision

If either you or your teen is hesitant about getting a job, discuss your reasoning together. What would be the job’s purpose? Is it career preparation? A venue for his or her social life? Or is it just about making money? Ultimately the decision will have to be made together. Help your teen research and apply for jobs online at Job-Applications.com. Establish expectations about grades and how much time you’d like them to allot to family and home life. Talk about preparing a budget and how to handle work-related situations, such as calling in sick or responding to manager feedback. In the beginning, you may want to limit how many hours he or she can work in a week and change that number as the need arises.

What are Their Rights?

Federal law regulates where and how many hours a day a teen can work. Visit the Department of Labor website to learn more about federal and state child labor laws. According to the CDC, working teens have the right to:

  • Earn at least federal minimum wage
  • Work in a safe and healthy place
  • Receive safety and health training
  • Work without harassment or discrimination
  • Ask for workplace changes because of religious beliefs or a medical condition
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