Teenage Labor Laws in California

If you are a 16 or 17 year old and are not yet an ‘adult,’ and 18, you must adhere to a separate set of rules in order to be employed.  Each state has a different set of rules and regulations, most of which are printed on each state’s government website.  Employment law also falls under different departments for different states, so you may need to spend a bit of time searching around online.  For instance, in the state of Washington, you can find information about teens at work through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.  In California, you find the required information about jobs and laws through the CA.gov website, under the department of industrial relations.  Make sure you’re on the right GOVERNMENT website, not a separate website if you are researching specific laws.

16 and 17 year olds in California are considered minors and are therefore required to attend school.  That means that, except for the summer, you cannot be working in a job full time.  To work as a minor, the labor laws in California dictate that you must have a valid work permit.  Employers who want to hire minors must also obtain a work permit in order to employ teenagers under 18.


In most cases, outside of the entertainment industry (which really is its own animal in California isn’t it?) upon getting a part-time job offer a student needs to fill out a form, which he or she can get from a school counselor.  This form is from the department of education, and must be approved by the school in order for the student to get the work permit.  This is a free service, so if you are ready to work and someone is telling you that you need to pay in order to obtain the work permit, don’t!  Go to the DOE website to learn more.

Child labor laws were passed in California back in 1995, so employers have no excuses not to know what exactly is required of them.  The best place to find, in detail, information about these laws is by downloading the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s Child Labor Laws Booklet.  This is an official document prepared by the state of CA, and contains detailed instructions for both teenagers looking for work and small business owners and managers interested in hiring such people.  You can download this booklet by clicking the link below.  If you are looks for jobs for 14 or 15 year olds, you are looking for different information.  Make sure to check back regularly

Labor Laws Booklet

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