Michigan Labor Laws for Minors

by Jennifer Mueller; Updated September 26, 2017
Businessman and teenage boy in office

Michigan restricts the hours and types of work minors can do, setting a minimum age of 14 to work in most jobs in the state. The Michigan Department of Labor enforces and prosecutes violations of the youth employment law. If convicted, violators could serve a year in prison or pay a $500 fine for each occurrence.

Work Permits

Unless a minor is emancipated, has already graduated from high school, or has a G.E.D., she must have a work permit before she can work in most jobs in Michigan. Permits are pink for minors under 16 and yellow for 16- and 17-year-olds. School superintendents issue the permits, and a copy is kept in the student's permanent record.

To apply, the student must show proof of her age and a statement of intent to hire from her prospective employer. That statement includes the hours she would work, her hourly wage and the types of work she would perform.

Once issued, the permit only is valid while she works for that employer. School officials can revoke the permit if the student has poor attendance at school or if her working conditions violate state or federal laws.

Wages and Hours

Michigan teenagers under 16 can't work more than six days a week. During the school year, the total time they spend in school and at work cannot be more than 48 hours, and they can't work between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Once they turn 16, teenagers can work up to 24 hours during a school week, and can work as late as 10:30 p.m. or as early as 6 a.m.

The state allows employers to pay teenagers 85 percent of the adult minimum wage. Additionally, they can be paid $4.25 an hour as a training wage during their first 90 days of employment.

Minors Working in Agriculture

Michigan law loosens the restrictions for minors working in agriculture. Teenagers can work in the production of seed or processing fruits and vegetables without a permit, as long as school is not in session. The state expands the hours minors can work as well, allowing a maximum of 62 hours a week or 11 hours a day. They can work last late as 2 a.m. and as early as 5:30 a.m.

Adult Supervision Required

Teenagers cannot work in Michigan without the presence of an adult supervisor on the premises. Additionally, Michigan law forbids teenagers from conducting cash transactions after sunset without direct adult supervision. This law is strictly enforced, with penalties as high as one year in prison and a $2,000 fine for the first offense.

No Permit Required

Many jobs teenagers typically hold are exempt from Michigan's youth employment laws and do not require a permit. These jobs include babysitting or doing odd jobs in a private home, delivering newspapers and working at a business owner by the teenager's parent or guardian. Teens over 14 also can work at the school where they're enrolled without having a work permit on file.

Although typically even teenagers doing volunteer work must have a work permit, Michigan makes an exception for teenagers volunteering for nonprofit organizations or at agricultural fairs or exhibitions run by societies such as 4-H.

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

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