Should your teenager get a part-time job?

September 17, 2015

By Sheryl Smolkin

School has barely started and your teenager tells you she wants to get a part-time job. While you admire her enthusiasm, you are naturally worried about the impact working 15-20 hours per week will have on both her and the family.

First of all, you should become familiar with the minimum age requirements for working in Saskatchewan. The general minimum age of employment in Saskatchewan is age 16.  To work in Saskatchewan, 14 and 15 year olds must have permission from their parents. They are also required to complete the Young Worker Readiness Certificate Course (available online) and obtain a Certificate of Completion.

Fourteen and 15 year olds can’t work more than 16 hours in a week in which school is in session; after 10 p.m. on a day before a school day; and before the start of any school day. They can work the same hours as other employees during school breaks and vacations. Young people under the age of 14 cannot work unless the employer has a special permit from the Director of Employment Standards.

These rules do not apply to sectors exempt from The Saskatchewan Employment Act and regulations, including:

  • Family businesses employing only immediate family;
  • Self-employed;
  • Traditional farming operations;
  • Babysitters; and
  • Newspaper carriers.

So assuming your child is legally-entitled to get a part-time job, here are some of the other questions the family should consider before she starts filling out application forms:

  1. Why does she want/need a job? Is the money that will be earned necessary for the family to cover basic expenses or will it be used for “extras” that you cannot or will not pay for? Will some of the money be saved towards college or university tuition?
  2. Does she feel pressure to work part-time because all her friends are doing it?
  3. Does she really have time to hold down a job? A part-time job can help a student develop a sense of responsibility and organizational skills to balance other commitments. But working could mean lower grades and fewer extra-curricular activities both of which may be considered when students apply for college or university.
  4. Can she handle the added physical and mental stress? An after-school or weekend job may seem like a great idea in sunny September. However, by November mid-terms when the temperatures plummet and everyone has a cold, combining work and school may be more than your child can physically or mentally handle.
  5. What transportation options are available? Is the job in walking distance from school or home? Is public transportation available? Is driving your child to and from work a practical option for the family?
  6. What about other family commitments? Your child may have regular chores like pet care or babysitting younger siblings after school. Are there other cost-effective options for the family?

In spite of the “time crunch” and the potential negative impact on your child’s grades, a part-time job can be a wonderful opportunity to gain work skills and experience. My sister’s first job was at McDonalds and ultimately she decided on a career in the hospitality industry.

In addition, by making their own money, kids have to learn how to manage it. They also have the independence to spend it on things like electronics or clothes that may be beyond the family budget. Saving money for expensive post-secondary education can reduce the need for student loans.

And with more and more young people struggling to get full-time jobs after graduation, the most valuable spin-off from part-time work could be networking opportunities and great references that give them toe-hold on the ladder to future success.

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