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Summer Jobs: When Should Your Teen Start Working?

SELECTIVE INSURANCE (06/07/2017) – If you have children, you’ve likely heard this age-old question: “Can I have some money?!” Usually, as a parent, you have to weigh the pros and cons of each query. But eventually, as young adulthood draws closer, the prospect of your child earning his or her own money becomes a happy reality.

For many parents, this can be an exciting day – no more allowance! But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for adolescent employment. The right time for your teen to set his or her sights on a summer job will depend on many things, including summer obligations, age, state of residence and interests. You’ll also need to consider transportation requirements for your child to get to and from work on time.

The State of Youth Employment
Lifeguarding. Babysitting. Mowing lawns. Flipping burgers. There are plenty of options out there for teens in need of gainful employment, especially during the summer months when school is out. While not all children work during their adolescent years, many do, spending hour upon hour learning the value of a dollar. In fact, in the United States, some 60% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are employed during the summer, shows historical date from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many companies hire teens specifically for the summer, especially those with a focus on warm-weather operations, such camps, pools, lawn and garden companies, and sporting facilities.

Questions to Ask
No two children are exactly alike, and no two jobs are, either. Before handing your child a copy of the help wanted ads or telling them to search for opportunities, here are some questions you and your family should consider.

What’s Allowed?
In the U.S., the Fair Labor Standards Act governs child labor, as do state-level regulations. Fourteen is the minimum age for working traditional jobs, with strong hourly limitations prior to age 16 that vary by location.

Children under the age of 16 may also have to apply for work permits before pursuing employment. In general, children will not be eligible for hire without meeting all state and federal regulations.

While rules do differ from one area to another, states generally have limits on both the number of hours adolescents can work, as well as the times of day work is permitted. For example, in New Jersey, teens under 18 are only allowed to work up to 40 hours each week during the summer, no more than eight hours a day, and no more than six consecutive days in a pay week. Furthermore, teens aged 14 to 15 can’t work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. from the last day of school to Labor Day. Those aged 16 to 17 can’t work before 6 a.m. or after 11 p.m. without written permission from a parent.

Is There Time for Work?
Many children, especially as college draws closer, have busy summer schedules that include day or overnight camps, band, sports and other extracurricular activities. If finances allow, these activities might take priority because of the educational and social opportunities that can play an important role in building for the future.

What Drives a Teen to Work?
For some families, there may be compelling reasons for teens to work. These can range from providing summer activity for children of parents who both work to saving for an upcoming expense, like a first car or college. If your kid is enthusiastic about making money and would like to learn more about building a resume for the future, it may be time to consider employment. Not all children are mature enough or responsible enough to hold a job right away, however. So be sure to evaluate the personal capabilities of your child.

A first summer job is a big opportunity for parents and children alike. But the right time to start work isn’t the same for everyone. Before having him or her set off on a summer job search, be sure your child is old enough to work, has time to work, and is properly motivated to begin earning money. If this summer isn’t right, that’s okay – there can be plenty of future opportunities for your teen to experience the wide world of employment.