Aged 16, modelling can seem like a very real career prospect. If you are serious about it, you can start working full-time once you have reached Mandatory School Leaving Age (by law this is defined as the last Friday in June in the academic year you turn 16).
If you are still at school, the hours you are allowed to work remain strictly prescribed at this age, but the law does allow a 16-year-old to work the following (maximum) hours:
School days – 2 hrs per day
Saturdays – 8 hrs
Sundays – 2 hrs
School holidays – 8 hrs
Maximum hours – 35 (during school holidays) and 12 during term-time.
If you are working, you must have 12 hours rest between each working day, and two rest days per working week, and you are also entitled to a 30 minute break for every work period of 4.5 hours.
Aged 16, you will still need a performance licence to model, unless the work you are doing is unpaid or no absence from school is required. The agency is responsible for submitting a licence application, and it will be issued by the local authority who will liaise with the head teacher of the child’s school to ensure that the child’s education will not be jeopardised by the uptake of modelling work.
In addition to this, if you become successful, you may find yourself travelling to work and having a parent or guardian to accompany you to shoots is not always practical. In these cases, an agency will have to apply for a chaperone licence as a 16-year-old cannot by law go to jobs unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult.
The issue with modelling at this age is that turning 16 does represent a crossroads for many young people. Do you go out into the world of work, or do you stay on and study? It is true that there is no age limit on studying post-16, but part and parcel of the whole experience is going to college or sixth form, socialising and gaining independence. For many teenagers, going on to further study is an experience that determines the kind of adult they will turn out to be. When thinking about taking modelling to the next level, this is a serious factor to consider.
Modelling does offer a small window of opportunity, and youth is held at a premium, but it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. Many of the models working today juggle education with modelling, including top model Karlie Kloss. It is possible to do both, and a good agency will support you with the decision you eventually make.