What Is a Work Permit for Those Under 18 Years Old?

by Rhonda Campbell - Updated September 26, 2017

Getting a job is a primary goal of some teens who are younger than 18 years of age. Although these workers can get jobs in a variety of industries, they must get a permit to confirm that their parents approve of their working while they are still in school. Permits are also used to confirm ages of teen workers. Teens can generally get work permits from their school administrators.

Federal Requirements

The federal government does not require youth workers under age 18 to submit work permits to their employers before they start working. However, many state laws do mandate that teens younger than 18 get a written permit before they start working. If state laws require teens to get a work permit, the United States Department of Labor will issue them a permit if they are unable to get the permit from their school guidance counselor or from their state’s labor department.

Age Verification Forms

When teens get work permits, information provided on the documents serve as proof that teens are old enough to work. For example, federal Department of Labor laws require that teens be at least 14 years old before they work outside school hours. Work permits are obtained after teens land jobs with employers. Teens' details listed on the permits are age, home addresses, the occupation to be worked (such as waitress or stock clerk) and the days and hours expected to be worked. Although work permits vary by state, parents, teens and employers must generally sign the documents. School officials also sign the permits.

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Prohibited Jobs

Even if they get work permits, teens cannot work every type of job. Federal laws prohibit teens from working manufacturing, mining or hazardous jobs. For example, teens generally cannot operate power-driven equipment. They also cannot handle explosives or operate motor vehicles. However, youths can work on their family farms regardless of their age; they do not need work permits. However, some states regulate the hours that youths can work on family-owned farms.

Work Hours

Federal laws state that teens between the ages of 14 and 15 cannot work more than three hours on a school day and no more than 18 hours a week when school is in session. They also cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on school days. These teens can work up to eight hours a day when school is not in session and as many as 40 hours a week when school is out. The federal government does not regulate the hours that teens between the ages of 16 and 17 can work. However, some state laws limit the numbers of hours teens between the ages of 16 and 17 can work. For example, Alabama prohibits teens between the ages of 16 and 17 from working between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on school days. In Arkansas, 16- and 17-year-olds cannot work between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and Florida laws prohibit 16- and 17-year-olds from working between 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

About the Author

Rhonda Campbell is an entrepreneur, radio host and author. She has more than 17 years of business, human resources and project management experience and decades of book, newspaper, magazine, radio and business writing experience. Her works have appeared in leading periodicals like "Madame Noire," "Halogen TV," "The Network Journal," "Essence," "Your Church Magazine," "The Trenton Times," "Pittsburgh Quarterly" and "New Citizens Press."

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