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Work Permit FAQ

Can you remember your first REAL job? Whether it was flipping burgers or working in retail, that step into the adult world is burned into your memory. Many homeschoolers are ready and eager to enter the job market during their teen years, and they have lots to offer employers: confidence working with adult customers, good work habits, and honesty. Before you send your homeschooled teen out of your home and into the workplace, it’s a good idea to be familiar with state and federal laws regulating their employment.
As you might expect, state and federal labor regulations regarding minors have increased since our first years in the job market. The following summary of the major requirements is taken from the Guide for the Employment of Teenagers. It addresses many of the employment questions asked by home-educating parents.


Are work permits always required?

It is not necessary for 12- or 13-year-olds to have work permits. They may work as newspaper carriers, on farms, in gardens, or in orchards without a permit. Children who are 12 or 13 may NOT work as newspaper carriers before 4 a.m., or after 7 p.m., or during school hours. Work permits are not issued to children younger than 14.


Who must have a work permit?

Every teenager 14 or 15 years of age must have an employment certificate or work permit to work at a job. He must have a permit even if he is married or has graduated from high school.


Are there exceptions?

Yes, there are some exceptions. Work permits are NOT REQUIRED for the following:

  • work at home for parents;
  • work on farms, in gardens, and in orchards;
  • volunteer work;
  • non-agricultural jobs when a parent owns the business;
  • occasional work around someone else’s home, such as yard work;
  • work performed for state or local government;
  • work as a page or clerk for the General Assembly;
  • child actors who have a theatrical permit.


Where can you obtain a work permit?

You may obtain a permit from a local high school or some private schools, even though your child does not attend these schools. Your school board or Department of Social Services may also issue work permits, but call first. An official “Issuing Officer” must give you the permit.


What documentation should you bring?

In order to obtain the two forms that must be completed prior to obtaining the work permit, the teen must bring evidence of his age. One of the following would be acceptable:

  • birth certificate
  • Bible or baptismal record
  • insurance policy at least one year old
  • passport
What will you receive?

You will be issued two forms: 1) Intention to Employ, and 2) Permission for Employment. The Intention to Employ form is taken by the teen to the employer. The employer is responsible to fill out the kind of work to be done and the number of days and hours the teen will be expected to work. This must be returned to the official. The Permission for Employment form is filled out by the parent and teen and signed in the presence of an official “Issuing Officer.”


Who keeps the work permit?

Three copies of the work permit are issued. The teen takes the first copy to the employer who keeps it at the workplace. (If the teen changes jobs, he must obtain another permit.) The second copy is kept on file in the office of the “Issuing Officer.” And the third copy is sent to the Department of Labor and Industry along with the Intention to Employ and Parent’s Permission forms.


Are there hour limitations for work?*

There are state and federal laws limiting the times and hours a teen can work. Teens who are 14 and 15 MAY NOT WORK the following:

  • more than 3 hours a day on a school day;
  • more than 18 hours a week in a school week;
  • more than 8 hours a day on a non-school day;
  • more than 40 hours a week in a non-school week;
  • before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. except between June 1 and Labor Day, when they can work as late as 9 p.m.;
  • during school hours, unless enrolled in a school work-training program;

Moreover, the following also apply:

  • The teen must be given a 30-minute rest- or meal-period after five hours of continuous work;
  • Although homeschoolers often have schedules that differ from public school schedules, according to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, homeschooled employees may only work when public schools are NOT in session. This is a federal law with which the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry must comply. Homeschoolers must confine their working hours to hours outside the local public school schedule.
What types of work are allowed for 14- and 15-year-olds?

Work in the following businesses is permitted, but teens are prohibited from operating certain machinery that may be considered hazardous:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Office work
  • Radio and TV stations
  • Gasoline stations
  • Bowling alleys
  • Skating rinks
  • Hotel food-service departments
  • Concessions at swimming pools
  • Dry-cleaning stores with no processing
  • Veterinary establishments
  • Kennels
  • Cutting grass
  • Caddies
  • Kitchen work, tray service, and hall cleaning in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Greenhouses and nurseries
  • Insurance and real estate
  • Advertising agencies
Are there situations with no restrictions on hours of work and age?

Yes, the following jobs have NO HOURLY RESTRICTIONS for ANY AGE teen:

  • working in a non-agricultural business owned by a parent;
  • working around the home for a parent;
  • working for state or local government;
  • working as a General Assembly page or clerk
  • working on farms, in gardens, and in orchards owned or operated by a parent;
  • performing activities for a volunteer rescue squad;
  • working as a child actor with a theatrical permit.
Must a 16-year-old have a work permit?

No, students age 16 and older are not required to have work permits. They may be employed in any job allowed by law that does not endanger the teen’s health and safety. They may work in many types of jobs—construction, auto repair, dry cleaning, manufacturing, radio and TV repair, printing, hospitals, hotels, theaters, warehouses, fairs and carnivals, etc. Also, 16- and 17-year-olds have no restrictions on their hours of work. Due to health and safety concerns, however, certain occupations and job tasks are prohibited for teenagers. For an extensive list, see the Guide for the Employment of Teenagers published by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.


What type of enforcement is there?

Work permits can be revoked if they are obtained by misrepresentation or by mistake. The Department of Labor and Industry may inspect a business at any time during business hours. They may examine records such as time cards and work permits, as well as interview any employees. If the employer is found in violation, he may be fined up to $1,000 for each violation. If you have specific questions, you may call the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry at 804-786-2386. You can view more details on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website.

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