Should Children Be Allowed To Earn Money?
Upon mention of the words ‘child labour’ many people might envision a harrowing scene straight from a Charles Dickens’ novel; with malnourished children slaving away on an assembly line, producing goods for cruel, predatory adults. The concept of kids working for money has somehow been associated with a denial of childhood rights and forced employment.

Unfortunately in Jamaica, poverty and ignorance has driven too many parents to curtail their children’s education at an early age, turning them out onto the fields, markets and streets to contribute an income to the family home. We have all seen young children in uniform plying their wares, explaining that they needed to collect enough money to go to school the next day.

The question about children working for an income came to the forefront a few months ago around a television commercial featuring youth, obviously not yet in their teens, singing for a cellular telephone company. A complaint was raised that the advertiser was unethical to use children to promote its product. Eventually, a warning from the Ministry of Labour and Welfare was issued reminding people that children of a certain age should not be employed.

The whole issue left me bewildered and bothered. Why shouldn’t talented kids be paid for the value they create in the marketplace, just like their adult counterparts?

Child Employment and The Law

To find out more about restrictions on child employment, I examined the Child Care and Protection Act 2004. Section 33 states that “no person shall employ a child under the age of thirteen years for the performance of any work.” Section 34 outlines the restrictions on employment for children aged 13 to 15, ensuring that they are not involved in hazardous activity or night or industrial work.

However, Section 35 indicates that notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 33 and 34, the Minister responsible for labour may “issue a permit to a child to enable that child to be employed for the purpose of participating in artistic performances.” Any offence against the provisions in this Act can lead to a fine not exceeding $500,000 and/or jail time not exceeding six months.

Section 38 also notes that the restrictions do not apply to work done by any child “under order of detention in a juvenile correction centre or a community service order; or as part of that child’s instruction in any school,” as long as it is not dangerous or interfering in the child’s education.

Children can Contribute to Economic Growth

One of the problems currently facing Jamaica is that we have insufficient business activity to produce desperately needed jobs. As we search for ideas to turn around our country’s economy, we can’t ignore the part that children can play. If we don’t develop an entrepreneurial outlook and money-making skills in our youth, they will graduate from school expecting to receive employment that will not be available.

I think that it is vital for parents to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in their children. The knowledge of how to create value for others and receive a monetary reward in exchange is one of the best lessons to impart to them. Several large enterprises in retail, manufacturing and the hotel industry continue to prosper today because the founders incorporated their children into the business from an early age.

Even if you don’t have a family business, you can still teach your children about earning money. Working gives them experience in offering a service or delivering a product, builds their saving accounts, and teaches them important money management habits.

Money-making Ideas for Children

– Car washing: Kids can go in groups of two or three around their communities and offer to clean their neighbours’ cars.

– Pet care: Children with a love for animals could provide dog grooming and pet-sitting services.

– Food sale: Children who love to bake or cook could earn money from making lunches or snacks and selling them on weekends.

– Baby sitting: Busy parents always need help with their kids, so this could be a profitable assignment for children with a knack for taking care of younger children.

– Tutoring services: Children who are knowledgeable about school subjects such as Math or English, or who are computer whizzes, can teach others in these areas.

– House sitting: When neighbours go on vacation, children can offer to water plants, rake leaves or feed their pets in their absence.

– Landscaping: Mowing the lawn, planting flowers, weeding and trimming are light landscaping activities that children can do for neighbours.

– Backyard gardening: Encourage a green thumb by giving your kids a space to grow vegetables and herbs which can be sold to supermarkets and health food stores.

– Artistic creations: Children can design jewelery, make greeting cards, design promotional material, create websites, produce artwork, do face painting at birthday parties, and more.

It’s important to monitor your children’s entrepreneurial activities to ensure that they keep safe and that their income earning doesn’t interfere with their school work.

About the Author

Cherryl Hanson Simpson is a financial consultant and money coach, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. She is currently writing her first book, “The 3 Ms of Money: How to Manage, Multiply and Maintain Your Money.”  Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services is Jamaica’s number one source for practical, down-to-earth and independent answers for all questions relating to personal finance. Get more smart money advice at and and .

Copyright © 2010 Cherryl Hanson Simpson.


  • Cherryl Hanson Simpson

    Cherryl Hanson Simpson is a Jamaican entrepreneur, author, money coach and business mentor. As the founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services, Cherryl has trained, coached and mentored thousands of persons about the principles of financial success. In her first eBook, The 3 M's of Money: How to Manage, Multiply and Maintain Your Money, Cherryl shares her emotional and eventful journey to unearth the secrets to financial success, and reveals all the steps that you need to learn and live by, if you want to win in the game of money. See more of Cherryl's work at, and

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