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Work Permit Information

Work Permit Information for Teens

For a comprehensive overview of youth employment information, visit the Youth Rules! website from the Department of Labor:

For the complete set of laws governing youth employment in the State of California, please visit:
. You can find a pamphlet from the State of California Department of Industrial Relations that covers definitions of minors along with wages, hours of work allowed, types of employment allowed by age, restricted and prohibited occupations, and penalties for violating these laws.


Frequently Asked Questions about Work Permits

What is a work permit and where can I get one?

A work permit is a legal document required by the state of California that allows a person under 18 years of age to hold a job. You may get a work permit from your local public high school. There are four steps in obtaining a work permit:

  1. Obtain a work permit application in the Counseling Center, or the Work Experience Office in the rear of S-6 (or the application form may be downloaded from the Employment locker.)
  2. Fill out the personal information at the top of the application, get your prospective employer to fill out the information required in the middle portion, and have a parent or guardian sign the bottom portion of the application.
  3. Return the completed work permit application to your high school where the work permit will be processed and typed. Your school will need 48 hours to process the Work Permit.
  4. Bring the typed work permit back to the prospective employer.

At what age can I get a work permit?

Minors aged 12 through 17 are required to get work permits before starting a job. A minor under the age of 12 cannot receive a work permit except in the entertainment industry. There are a few exceptions to these rules. No work permit is required for the following jobs: 1) certain agricultural industry jobs, 2) odd jobs in private homes such as gardening and babysitting, 3) newspaper delivery jobs, 4) casual work in a family-owned business, and 5) self-employment.

Does a work permit require school attendance?

Minors under 18 years of age must attend school to get a work permit. If a student graduates from high school before age 18, he or she no longer needs a work permit. If a student passes the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) or the G.E.D. before the age of 18, he or she no longer needs a work permit. When an employer hires someone under 18 years old who has graduated, passed the CHSPE or G.E.D., the document verifying that fact must be given to the employer as proof that no work permit is required. Minors between 16 and 18 years of age who have dropped out of school must be enrolled in continuation or adult school classes for at least four hours per week before getting a work permit. Emancipated minors must attend school in order to get a work permit. Emancipated minors are those who have gone through court proceedings to be legally separated and freed from the control of their parents for certain reasons. Emancipated minors are still required to get a work permit before being employed but may obtain the work permit without parent consent and signature.

Can a work permit be taken away?

Yes, the work permit can be cancelled and taken away at any time by a high school administrator. In addition, a work permit can be cancelled at a parent's request with good reason. Good reasons for canceling a work permit include: job does not fit legal requirements for minors, hours scheduled create a truancy or absence problem for the student, or demands of job are causing student to fail classes at school.

When does a work permit expire?

A minor must obtain a work permit for each job. A work permit is no longer valid when a minor quits or leaves a job. A new work permit application must be filled out for each new job. In addition, all work permits in the state of California expire five days after the opening of school in the fall. this is to insure that all minors report to school in the fall before continuing to work after summer vacation. Therefore, if a minor obtained a job and work permit in June and still had that same job in September, the work permit would expire. The minor would need to obtain a new work permit for the new school year even though it was for the same continuing job.

Do teenage actors get their work permits from their high school?

No. Minors aged 15 days to 18 years employed in the entertainment industry must have a permit to work, and employers must have a permit to employ, both permits being issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. These permits are also required for minors making phonographic recordings or who are employed as advertising or photographic models. Permits are required even when the entertainment is noncommercial in nature.

There is no fee to obtain an entertainment work permit. The application for permission to work in the entertainment industry must be filled out completely and mailed, along with any required documents and a pre-addressed, stamped envelope, to any office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. To find the nearest DLSE office, use the division's office locator.

Do teenage actors have to attend school?

Yes. If a performer is under 18 years and unable to attend his or her regular school, the employer must provide a studio teacher to teach during school days. In addition, the studio teacher is present on the set with minors on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and during vacations. The studio teacher, in addition to teaching, has the responsibility for attending to the health, safety, and morals of minors under 16 years of age while the minors are employed by the entertainment industry. The studio teacher may refuse to allow the use of a minor on a set or location, if , in the judgment of the studio teacher, conditions are such as to present a danger to the health, safety, or morals of the minor.


(California & Federal Labor Codes)

Under age 12:
Prohibited except for entertainment industry
Ages 12-13:
Prohibited in firms subject to Federal Standards Act

Ages 16-17:
School in session:
4 hours maximum per day/day before a school day
8 hours maximum per day/day before a non-school day
36 hours total per week (varies from district to district)
Range of hours: 5:00am - 10:00pm
5:00 - 12:30am (if no school next day)

Ages 14-15:
School in session
3 hours maximum per day/day before a school day
8 hours maximum per day/day before a non-school day
18 hours maximum per week
Range of hours: 7:00am - 7:00pm any day

Summer (June 15 - Labor Day):
8 hours maximum per day/any day
40 hours maximum per week
Range of hours: 7:00am-9:00pm any day

School in session (enrolled in Work Experience Education):
8 hours maximum per day/any day
48 hours total per week
Range of hours: (as above)

Summer (June 15 - Labor Day)
8 hours maximum per day/any day
48 hours per week
Range of hours: 5:00am - 12:30am

For further information:
Link to the FAQ page on the State of California Department of Education website or contact the Career Center at your local high school.