Holiday Jobs

Working teen (photo from shutterstock)
Summer jobs are a great way to earn some money, make friends and add work experience to a CV – and the Easter holiday is the time for teens to start looking for the summer ahead. Here are tips for job hunting and a round-up of the law on teenage working hours.

Enterprising young teens can help out neighbours, look after children or give private lessons. If you want to work with children, you can either babysit (in France, the legal minimum age is 16) or, if you have the Brevet or BAFA qualifications, work at summer camps or for children’s activity centres.
To be an au-pair, it can depend on the family, but you normally need to be 17 or older. Léa Dupont 20, worked as an au-pair for a summer two years ago. ‘The family wanted someone to go with them to the south coast to look after their three young children,’ she says. ‘It was nice to be by the sea but it was definitely not a holiday! My day began when the children got up and finished when they went to bed. They were nice kids but it was still tiring! However, it did mean that I could save some money.’ Most au-pairs are given board and lodging and a stipend of around €75 a week.

If you have a specific talent – whether it be for maths, setting up websites or playing the guitar – and are good with people, you could offer private lessons. Many parents are eager for their children to swat up on English during the holidays. This is generally one of the better paid options for young people and it is also flexible as you can choose your hours and fit the work around your holidays. Companies who hire private teachers often ask for university students with the BAC rather than those still at lycée, so your best option is working privately.
Vita James, 16, gives maths coaching to collège students. ‘It’s fun realising that you can really help people – I love the light that comes on in their eyes when they finally grasp something that they haven’t understood in class. It’s also great to earn your own money yourself.’

If teaching is not for you, you could do anything from washing cars to creating jewellery to sell. From age 16, you can be paid through the chèque emploi scheme for work you do at people’s homes. Both the employer and employee need to be registered with the scheme. You can work under your parent’s social security number if you don’t yet have your own.
Older teens – 16 and above – can apply to supermarkets and shops which take on seasonal workers to cover staff holidays. Office work is more difficult to get as it often goes to university students who are doing internships or who have a minimum of a BAC+2, and hairdressers generally take on youngsters who are doing their training at college.

To maximise your bilingual skills, look for work in hotels, camp sites or tourist offices looking for seasonal workers. It is worth finding out what there is near you and dropping your CV in places that are recruiting and with temping agencies if you’re over 18.
Whilst a popular choice for summer work is waitressing, not all employers are willing or able to take on 16-year-olds, so it is best to look for part-time, day-time work or in smaller cafes. ‘I can’t employ anyone under 18 as staff need to serve alcohol and sometimes work late shifts,’ says Emma Stanyon, who manages 25 Est in Paris and takes on more than 20 extra staff each summer. ‘But we do hire a lot of older students. They have to be available for the whole summer, very motivated and nicely presented when they come in with their CV. First impressions count. If they don’t have experience, they need to prove that they really are motivated and hard-working.’ Restaurants that are near tourist hot-spots will be extra willing to take on bilingual staff.
Other options are washing dishes or food preparation, neither of which require previous experience but can be physically tiring. The Autogrill chain recruits over 100 young people every summer to make and sell sandwiches, snacks and drinks at its stands at train stations and motorway service areas. They look for staff who are dynamic, punctual and sociable and recruit online through its website and on student job sites, as well as through temping agencies which give candidates simple numeracy and literacy tests to complete first. Lois Nicholson worked there for a summer when she was 19. ‘It was tiring but fun because the people were nice and we had a laugh. You have to work at a fast pace and it gets hot in the “lab” where you work,’ she says. ‘ It was a group interview in French which was quite daunting as I’d not been in France that long but luckily interview questions are pretty much the same wherever you are so I could prepare.’

Tips on finding a summer job:
- Firstly, think about what type of summer job you want, the location and what hours you’re willing (and able) to work. Many jobs will demand that you commit to the whole summer so you may not get a holiday yourself. If you live in a remote rural area, think about transport. You may need to look for jobs with lodgings to avoid spending all your money on transport of having to ask parents to ferry you there and back every day.
-Think about what skills you can offer an employer. What other kind of work have you done – paid or volunteer? What have you learned at school that might be useful in your ideal summer job? Can you use your language skills to your advantage?
-If you have a CV, you will come across as more professional to employers.
- Use your contacts. Ask family, friends’ parents and other adults if they know anyone who is looking for summer staff.
- Go round with your CV, look online and reply to newspaper ads.

Where to look online:
L’Etudiant (
Studyrama (
Job d’été (
Your local youth information centre (
Pole Emploi (
Job Junior (

Legal Q&A
You can work during the summer holidays from the age of 14, as long as: you don’t work for more than half of the holidays, your parents give their written consent and the employer has obtained authorisation from the government inspector to hire you during the holidays. The request has to be made by the employer 15 days before you start work and indicate the length of the contract, the type of job, the conditions and the working hours as well as the pay. Written authorisation from your parents is attached to this. The work must be considered ‘light’ and not tiring. You have to undergo a medical check with the occupational health doctor who will verify that you’re physically able to do the job.
From the age of 16, you can be hired without the authorisation of the government inspector, but as you are under 18, you still require authorisation from your parents.
Will I have a contract?
Yes. You will have a short-term contract – un contrat à durée déterminée (CDD).
How many hours can I work?
Hours can vary depending on the job, but if you’re between 14 and 16, you cannot work more than seven hours a day. If you’re between 16 and 18, you cannot work more than eight hours a day or 35 hours a week. You’re not allowed to work overtime. You’re allowed a break of 30 minutes for every 4 and a half hours worked. If you’re between 14 and 16, you can’t work between the hours of 8pm and 6am (10pm and 6am if you’re 16 or 17) unless the government inspector allows it due to the nature of the job.
How much will I earn?
It depends on your age. The minimum wage (SMIC) if you’re over 18 is €9 an hour. If you’re between the ages of 14 and 16, your pay cannot be lower than 80 percent of the SMIC, which is €7.20. At 17, it cannot be less than 90 percent of the SMIC, €8.10.

1 comment:

  1. Summer job is a good way to gain experience and to know how it feels like to actually work. When it's time to work for real, you won't be too lost.


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