At what age can you go to work?

What are the laws on Saturday work for school pupils in France?

24 February 2011

I started a paper round at 13 in the UK. What are the laws on Saturday work for school pupils in France? Can teenagers do part-time jobs in the holidays to earn pocket-money? S.S.

The rules are somewhat stricter in France and you cannot do a paper round at 13. UK national law allows "light work" from 14, but local by-laws can allow some kinds of work, such as paper rounds, from 13 (in the USA, federal law
sets no age limit at all, though some states do).

There are also exceptions for modelling or entertainment. In France, similar rules apply to the entertainment industry. However, the general rule is no work under 16.

Exceptions include:

- Working under an apprenticeship contract, from age 15.

- Working in a family business supervised by a parent or guardian for occasional or short-duration work with no health or safety risks.

- From 14, it is possible to do short periods of light holiday work, of a kind suitable to the child’s age (not, for example, working in a bar), as long as the parents’ permission is given. They can only work during holiday periods of
at least 14 days and the child must have at least half the holiday off. Therefore a Saturday job would not be possible under 16.

Legal expert Philippe Berlouin, of the Dordogne Chamber of Commerce, said: "Employment of under-16s is an exception to the usual rule, and is very regulated. From 16, it is more open, but again as long as it is not during school hours.

"Minors doing part-time jobs is not very common in France; the most typical example is summer jobs for those aged 16 or more."

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