At What Age Can I Work?

So you’re a minor (under 18 and have not finished high school) and you want to get a job outside of the home. If you have not yet graduated high school, you need a work permit. This is true even if you are not a California resident who is required to attend school. Minors must obtain a work permit before they start their jobs. The youngest age one might be able to obtain a work permit is 12.

Work permits can usually be obtained from the minor’s school. A California State Department of Education Form B 1-4 (Application for Work Permit and Statement of Intent to Employ Minors) must be filled out. A current example of this form was found on the DLSE (Department of Labor Standards Enforcement) website at the time this article was written. B 1-4 Application for Work Permit for Minor It is best to make sure the form available on this website is the current, up to date form. Please do not rely on this website for legal advice if you are a school or employer as every page on this website is not updated on a monthly, or more frequent basis. Merely filling out this form is insufficient. The minor’s school must fill out and sign the bottom portion of the form. The employer must also fill out a portion of the form. Once everything is filled out and signed, the minor’s school will provide the minor with a copy of the work permit. As you can see on the form, authorization is given for specific work hours. A separate work permit is required to work in the entertainment industry.

When Can A Minor Work?

The number of hours a minor can work per day depends on their age. The first question is how many hours in a day can a minor work? How many hour a minor can work in a day usually depends on whether it is a school day, sometimes whether it is the day before a school day.

  • • Minors who are 14 or 15 may only work 3 hours a day on school days.
  • • Minors 16 or 17 can work up to 4 hours a day on school days.
  • • 16 or 17 year-olds can work 8 hours.

* On non-school days the rules are different

How many hours per week can a minor work when school is in session?

14 and 15 year olds may not work more than 18 hours a week. There may be an exception if the minor is enrolled in a school supervised, or administrated work program such as a work experience/career program. If that is occurring the minor can work 23 hours a week. Employers cannot get tricky and try to increase the number of hours a minor works by not paying them for some of the hours, or claiming those hours are for experience, training, or personal development. Any time somebody in California performs work that somebody would normally be paid for, the same type of work as a paid worker must be paid at minimum wage.

Minors who are 15 or younger can not work more than 8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week. Minors 15 and younger cannot be employed before 7 AM or after 7 PM except from June 1st through Labor Day. Then they may work until 9 PM.

Minors 16 or 17 may not work more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. 16 and 17 year olds may not work before 5 AM or after 10 PM on any school day, or day before a school day. School days are defined as days in which the minor must attend school for 240 minutes or more.

It is wrongful termination if the employer fires a minor for complaining they are being asked to work hours beyond those allowed by California law, or if the minor refuses to work hours that are illegal in California.

What kind of jobs can a minor do?

When school is in session, minors can only work in agriculture, horticulture, viticultural, or domestic labor (cleaning, care taking) if the work is under the control of the minor’s parent or guardian, or is performed on premises the parent or guardian owns, operates, or controls. However, minors who are infrequently employed as baby sitters and other jobs in private households do not need work permits, presuming the work is not done during school hours.

California has what are called Wage Orders. Different Wage Orders govern different industries. There are different rules on when a minor can work, and if they can work, in certain industries. There are special rules about work in agricultural packing plants, manufacturing, work as messengers, entertainers, bars, lottery ticket sales, immoral places such as strip clubs, liquor only retail establishments, agriculture, and domestic labor.

construction site accident

Minors under 16 cannot perform work oiling, wiping, or cleaning machinery, sewing, operating many types of power tools, work with dangerous poisonous acids, on scaffolding, in excavations, packing or manufacturing tobacco, in occupations that are dangerous or may injure a minor’s health or morals (marijuana dispensaries). It should also be noted minors cannot work doing door to door selling of subscriptions, cookies, flowers, etc. more than 50 miles from the minor’s residence. Minors can only do door to door sales if the work is done in pairs and supervised by an adult within sight or sound at least every 15 minutes. Nor can minors work passing or selling products to motorists from a street or highway off ramp. Minors under 16 are also not permitted to do construction.

What Does A Minor Have To Be Paid?

Almost without question a minor must be paid minimum wage. Just because a minor is called an intern or apprentice does not exempt the employer from minimum wage obligations. In California, if somebody is performing work that would normally be considered a job, or the company would otherwise have to pay for the employer must pay minimum wage.

Internships where somebody merely observes, is not asked to give input, is not asked to take notes, and is not asked to perform work may not require the payment of minimum wage. Internships where individuals are asked to organize business property, scan or copy papers, make telephone calls for the business, or clean are all job functions the employer must pay minimum wage for.

Minimum wage is set by the State of California, the City and County of Los Angeles, and a number of different cities, and counties in California. Certain industries and business districts also have specific minimum wage requirements. For example, employees working at an airport or in a designated tourist area may be owed a specially set minimum wage.

Minors Need To Know Their Rights

Minors need to know their rights as a California employee. It is best to inform human resources and all levels of management of situations that do not feel right. Not complaining may be dangerous to one’s physical and mental health. If you have questions about whether you may have to file a lawsuit against your employer please call us at 877-525-0700. It is acceptable for parents to call with minors, but not if the worker is 18 or over. That call must be made by the worker themself.

Make sure minors know sexual harassment is illegal. So are inappropriate words about somebody’s ancestry, ethnicity, national origin, race, or religion. Even a minor can be fired for making offensive remarks about these things, sex, or sexual orientation and identification. Other top legal problems for minors are being paid in cash, or not receiving a compliant paystub. If a minor has a disability it must be accommodated if it is known to the employer. Employers are also responsible for work injuries.

Let us be your resource if you believe your rights were violated. It is important for minors to gain work experience. It is also important that minors not have their rights violated, or gain a negative prospective of the workplace.

Call 661-412-9600 for an experienced local labor lawyer