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California Work Permit for Minors

February 24, 2023 Legal Team

Work permits are mandatory in California for most minors under 18 years of age. The certificate must be presented to an employer to verify a minor’s ability to work before they are hired.

Work Permit Requirements

Minors aged 14 and up can seek employment in California with a “State Permit to Employ and Work.” However, a work permit is not required for the following jobs:

  • Certain agricultural industry jobs
  • Odd jobs in private homes, such as gardening and babysitting
  • Newspaper delivery jobs
  • Casual work in a family-owned business
  • Self-employment

Children 13 years old or younger may not work in California, except in some limited situations, for example, in the entertainment industry. Children as young as 15 days old can work in the entertainment industry with a permit. Additionally, children aged 12 and 13 can get a permit to work during weekends, school holidays, and summer or winter vacations. However, shifts must be no longer than eight hours and take place between 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Hour Restrictions

Fourteen and 15-year-old job seekers may work for up to three hours on school days for a total of 18 hours a week with a permit. On weekends and holidays, they can work eight-hour shifts, but must not exceed 40 hours of work each week. Shifts must occur between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, though the hours extend to 9:00 pm during the summer. As a result, minors between 12 and 15 must attend high school full time unless they have graduated or equivalent.

Sixteen-year-olds can work up to four hours on school days and eight hours on weekends for a total of 48 hours per week. Work hours must be between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm but extend to 12:30 am on non-school nights. However, they do not have to attend high school if they have graduated or have a certificate of proficiency.

Wage Laws

The current California minimum wage is $15.50 per hour, which is the lowest amount a non-exempt minor employee can legally be paid for hourly work. However, employers can pay children 18 years and younger $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment, which is the youth minimum wage. If you suspect unfair payment or delay in payment for your child, speak with an experienced Orange County employment lawyer.

Penalties for Child Labor Law Violations

Violations of child labor laws fall into two categories:

  • Class A violations fall into the more severe category and generally involve underage employment in hazardous occupations. Class A violations incur penalties of not less than $5,000 and up to $10,000 for each and every violation.
  • Class B violations include those against Labor Code sections related to work permits and employment of minors in the entertainment industry and such other violations that the Director of Industrial Relations determines have a direct or immediate relationship to the health, safety, or security of minor employees other than Class A violations. Class B violations carry civil penalties of not less than $500 and up to $1000 for each and every violation.

In addition, employers can be held civilly liable for criminal violations, failure to pay the applicable minimum wage, failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance or failure to provide a written deduction statement.