Work Permit FAQ

Know the regulations of this homeschooling option.

Can you remember your first REAL job?

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.

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 much to offer employers: confidence working with adult customers, good work habits, and honesty.

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 Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. It addresses many of the employment questions asked by home-educating parents.

Teens DO NOT begin the registration process for a certificate until you have a firm job offer. You will NOT be issued an employment certificate until you have an employer.

Teens 14 or 15 years of age must have an employment certificate, also known as a work permit, to work at a job. They must have a permit even if they are married or have graduated from high school.

Work Permits are not issued to children younger than 14.  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.

  • 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.

Yes, but both federal and state laws apply to teens. Federal and State Labor Laws for Youth Work-Based Learning provides a comparison chart and references to the Virginia Code and federal laws.

Homeschoolers can obtain a work permit, known as an employment certificate, online from The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website. A paper application is also available for those without Internet access, but the process is longer. A teen may NOT begin employment until the employment certificate is issued.

A Youth Unique Identifier is a number used in place of a social security number. Upon successful online registration, the teen will be issued a unique identifier number. It is assigned by the Department of Labor and Industry and delivered by email to the student who is applying for an employment certificate. A new number is issued each time a 14-or 15-year-old student applies for a different job.

This number will be provided to the prospective employer so he can register to employ the teen, and to the parent, guardian, or custodian so he can provide consent to employ the teen.

The Electronic Youth Employment Certificate application enables teens, employers, and parents to electronically submit the application forms required for an employment certificate. There are sections for the teen, the employer, and the parent to complete. Upon completion of all three sections, the system will typically issue a permit within 24 hours. Carefully follow the instructions and FAQ.

Proof of age can be provided by supplying one of the following:

    • A birth certificate
    • An attested transcript issued by a registrar of vital statistics or other officer charged with the duty of recording births
    • A baptismal record or duly certified transcript showing the date of birth and place of baptism of the child

Other documentary proof of age specified by the Commissioner that includes any government-issued identification card such as a passport, DMV identification card, or military identification card.

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.

A 14 or 15 year old must be given a 30-minute rest- or meal- period after 5 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.

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

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.

If you have specific questions, you may call the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry in Richmond at 804-371-3104. You can view more details on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website.