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

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.

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.

  • 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.

Homeschoolers can now obtain a work permit, officially known as an employment certificate, online at

The first step in the process is online registration by the teen.A unique identifier number will be provided. This number should be given to the  prospective employer to register to employ the youth, and to the parent or guardian for consent. A notarized signature is required from the parent on the consent form, and proof of age is required from the student. Instructions can be found here:

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,

The form can be filed electronically and processed quickly or mailed to the following address:  
Department of Labor & Industry
Child Labor Unit
1570 E. Parham Rd.
Richmond, VA 23228-2360

The employment certificate or work permit will be sent to the employer within seven to ten business days. Work cannot begin until the employment certificate is received by the employer.

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.

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.

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.

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 for each violation. If you have specific questions, you may call the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry in Richmond at 804-371-2327 or a local office. You can view more details on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website.