So, you are ready for your first summer job. You march into the local mall food court and fill out ten job applications. Everyone is hiring and you are psyched - your new job paying 10 bucks an hour will pay for summer movies, some new clothes and a whole bunch of new CDs. You might even have enough left over to save some for college or a used car. You give the employer the thumbs up and are ready to start work tomorrow. Except now you need to get a work permit.
Yep, if you are between 14 and 17 you might need to get a work permit to legally work - and if you are under 14 you may only be able to work doing special jobs and you will need special permission.
Why the hassle?
Well, mostly for your protection and enjoyment. First of all, the government is trying to protect you from becoming overworked and underpaid. So, they have created rules that limit the number of hours you can work and the type of work you can do based on your age. The government wants to give you a chance to get some work experience and earn some money as a teen, but also wants you to focus on your education and to enjoy being young. And as a wise man once said:
No one wants to go to the beach in a body cast. Be safe on the job and you will have a healthy, happy summer.
You are only young once - so pick a fun job with a good boss and cool co-workers - and make some money too! Just make sure you understand what kind of work you can do and get a work permit.
The rules vary from state to state so you should talk to your school guidance counselor about your own state's rules.
We have summarized the federal work laws for you. These laws apply in every state, though the state law will rule over the federal law if it is more restrictive.
Just click on your age to see what types of jobs you can and can't do:
Do I Need to Get a Job Before I Can Get a Work Permit?
Yes. In most states you need to get the job first. Once you have an offer for employment you can legally obtain a work permit. This is so the person issuing the permit can review the job you have obtained to make sure it fits within the laws that apply to you based on your age and where you live.
What Does a Work Permit Cost?
A work permit is free to obtain.
Where Do I Get A Work Permit?
The best place to get a work permit is through your middle school or high school administrative office. Even when school is out your school should have someone on staff with the work permit forms and the answers to your questions.
What Do I Need?
You will need proof of your date of birth - a passport, driver's license, ID card or birth certificate. You will also need the signature of your parent or guardian. Depending on where you live you may also need a copy of your report card during the school year. Some schools will not let you get a work permit during the school year if you are not doing well in school. Each school, county, and state across the country might have its own rules and regulations you will need to follow.
I Need More Information - Who Do I Contact?
The Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division website includes a list of all states and their labor office contact information.
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