Michigan labor laws restrict teens under 18 years of age to a certain number of hours in a day or a week they can work and the types of jobs they can take. Their exact age and if they attend school while working defines the workplace limitations.
Teens Entering the Workforce in Michigan
According to the state Wage and Hour Division, Michigan teens can start working at 14 years old or even younger, depending on the occupation. Workers between 14 and 18 years old who are employees, performing artists, independent contractors and volunteers must have a work permit, a written agreement or a contract with their employer and their school district before starting a job.
Certain minors are exempt from this rule:
- Sixteen and 17-year-olds who have graduated from high school.
- Seventeen-year-olds who have a GED certificate.
- Emancipated or married minors.
- Students who are at least 14 in work-study contract with a company and under school district supervision.
- Domestic workers in a private residence.
- Minors who sell or distribute advertising materials, newspapers, magazines, other periodicals or political materials.
- Shoe shiners.
- Members of youth organizations who work fundraisers.
- Teens who work in companies their parents own and operate.
- Teens who work in agriculture or with livestock on farms.
- Teens ages 14 to 17 who work at a school they also attend.
Hours Teens Can Work in Michigan
The state of Michigan restricts the hours a teen can work each day and week, depending on how old they are and if school is in session. Teens cannot work more than five hours a day without a one-half hour break or have more than 48 hours of work and school combined each week. These restrictions also apply:
- Teens under 18 cannot work more than six days each week.
- Teens aged 14 and 15 cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Teens aged 14 and 15 cannot work during school hours.
- Teens aged 16 to 18 cannot work before 6 a.m. or after 10: 30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday.
- Teens aged 16 to 18 cannot work before 6 a.m. or after 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, when school is not in session or during school vacation.
- Teens under 18 cannot work more than 10 hours each day, with a weekly average of eight hours a day.
Teens aged 16 and 17 can ask the state Wage and Hour Division for permission to work beyond these hours, which it may grant. However, 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work longer hours in a work week.
Work Permits and Teens
Teens under 18 require a work permit. They can get one from an issuing officer at their school or from the school district location of their employer. When they switch jobs, they must apply for a new work permit. Even if they are an out-of-state resident, home-schooled, or virtually learning, they still need a permit to work in Michigan.
If they cannot successfully balance their work-life and studies, and if their academic performance suffers, they could lose their work permit.
A company that wishes to hire a teen must complete the first part of the work permit with the minor's name, occupation and wage. The teen will complete the second part of the permit and take it to their school for the issuing officer to approve. The teen then returns the work permit to the employer, who keeps it on file.
Michigan Minimum Wage for Teen Workers
As of January 1, 2022, Michigan's minimum hourly wage increased from $9.65 to $9.87. The minimum wage applies to most jobs in Michigan, with the exception of tipped occupations, student occupations and other exempt jobs.
Tipped workers who are 16 or 17 can be paid 85 percent of the state minimum wage. Employees ages 16 to 19 may receive a training wage of $4.25 an hour for their first 90 days of work.
Occupations for Teens in Michigan
Michigan also restricts the types of work that teens can do. They cannot work hazardous jobs, but workers aged 16 and 17 can request permission to work in these occupations through the state Wage and Hour Division. Examples of dangerous occupations include:
- Jobs bringing teens in contact with chemicals, explosives or radioactive substances.
- Jobs driving as an outside helper.
- Logging and sawmill jobs.
- Woodworking and machinery jobs.
- Jobs in which welding, brazing, heat treating or soldering occur (for teens under 16).
- Jobs on excavation or construction sites.
- Jobs on highways, bridges or streets.
- Jobs in which butchering, slaughtering and meat-cutting occur.
- Jobs in which the teen would use saws, tools or other power-driven equipment.
Teens aged 14 to 17 can work in restaurants that serve alcohol as long as food and other products are at least 50 percent of an establishment's gross sales, but they cannot serve, sell or furnish alcoholic beverages.
Preteens in Michigan can also work under certain circumstances. Minors aged 11 or older can work as referees and bridge or golf caddies, and minors 13 and older can work as corn detasselers or at trap-shooting events.
Employer Supervision Under Michigan State Law
Companies that employ Michigan teens under 18 must have a supervisor at least 18 years old, or minors cannot work for that employer. The Michigan Wage and Hour Division applies penalties to companies that employ teens under 18 who conduct cash transactions after sunset or 8 p.m. without supervision.
Supervisors must be on the premises to direct and control younger workers and assist them in emergencies.
Recordkeeping for the Employment of Minors
Michigan employers must keep a teen's employment records on file with their work permit or exemption verification. Worker records include the number of hours the teen works for one year with their daily start and end times.
Parent/guardian permission documents that allow teens to work in restricted occupations and deviated hours, break times, and other records that the Wage and Hour Division may request must also be included.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.