As is the case in most states, work laws in Michigan mean that, before teenagers can start officially popping popcorn, mowing lawns or flipping burgers for the summer, they need to get a work permit. And, with a June 2018 statewide unemployment rate of only 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reaching out to younger employees can be a savvy move for business owners in the Great Lakes State.
The benefits are a two-way street, too – teens who work not only have increased chances of scoring jobs when they become adults, they may even find themselves with improved self-esteem and a reduced instance of depression (via studies from Research in the Sociology of Work and Canada's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth). But before taking their first steps into the workforce, it's vital for teenage Michiganders and their employers to be in the clear with state law – thankfully, the internet is here to help make that process fairly painless.
Michigan.gov offers work permits for free online printing, but make sure you understand the legal ins and outs first.
What Is a Work Permit in Michigan?
Per the Youth Employment Standards Act 90 of 1978, any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or performing artist under the age of 18 is considered a minor. The state of Michigan allows some minors to work, but before they can work legally, they need to obtain a work permit. This document serves as a written contract entered into between the employer and the minor's governing school district or its public or nonpublic school academy.
Work permits operate on a per-job basis, so if a minor changes jobs, he'll need a new work permit for each job. Even minors who attend home or online school – or those who don't attend school at all – typically need these permits to be legally employed. The school should be in the district associated with the minor's workplace.
How to Get a Work Permit Online in Michigan
While you can grab a work permit the old-school way from the chief administrator of the youth employee's school district or immediate school district, you can also just download the forms in PDF format at Michigan.gov, which offers both form CA-6 and form CA-7. The latter covers minors 16 and 17 years of age while the former is for minors under 16 years of age.
One caveat that makes at-home printing a tad more difficult: Form CA-6 must be printed on pink paper while CA-7 must be printed on yellow paper. In both cases, this applies to both the front and back of the form.
The Permit Process
Once you've got the form CA-6 or CA-7 in-hand, the minor in question must go in person to the Michigan school district, intermediate school district, public school academy or nonpublic school official designated as an issuing officer to provide legal evidence of age. A certified birth certificate, valid operator's license, school record, census record or statement from a physician all fit the bill. Minors who come from out of state to work in Michigan will need a certified birth certificate and transcript from the school they attend (including the school's address and contact info).
To fill out the work permit itself, basic info such as contact details, school information and work details such as hours worked, job title, job duties and hourly wage must be included.
Once Section I of the work permit is completed by the minor and parents, the employer must fill out Section II and provide a signature. Finally, a school district representative must complete Section III of the form. Section III verifies that the minor has appeared to the issuing officer in person while confirming the minor's age and compliance with state and federal laws. The school and guardians keep copies of the work permit (with the school hanging on to the document for seven years after the minor's graduation) while the original copy goes with the employer.
The journey doesn't end once the work permit is signed. Per Michigan's Youth Employment Standards Act of 1978, employers that hire minors must keep a copy of the work permit on file at the workplace. Alternatively, employers can hold on the minor's proof of emancipation, proof of graduation (in the case of 16 or 17 year-olds) or proof of passing the G.E.D. (in the case of 17 year-olds). In addition to keeping these forms on file, spaces where minors work must display posters from the Michigan Department of Labor detailing state work laws, rights and regulations for minors.
Basic Child Labor Laws
It's clear that those under 18 are considered minors, but, at minimum, what is the legal age to get a job in Michigan? The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth says that the minimum age for the employment of minors is 14 years.
That's not where the age regulations end, though. According to Michigan child labor laws in 2018, minors aged 16 and 17 can work between 6 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. during the summer, or until 10:30 p.m. during school-season weekdays. Those under the age of 16 can work only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Minors can't work for more than six days each week, nor can they work for more than a weekly average of eight hours per day, or 48 hours in a single week during school holidays. When school is in session, the total number of hours at work and hours at school combined cannot exceed 48 per week or 10 per day.
When minors are at work, the employer or an employee of 18 years of age or older must provide supervision, as written by law in Public Act 90 of the Youth Employment Standards Act. Of course, youth working in Michigan aren't just subject to state law; the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) regulates child labor on a federal level, including standards and regulations for minimum wage, safety and meal and break periods.
More to Know
Age isn't the only limit that work laws in Michigan impose on teenagers – the state puts some common-sense rules in place to protect minors and their employers alike.
After sunset or 8 p.m. (whichever comes earlier), Michigan minors aren't allowed to handle cash, unless an employee over the age of 18 is present. Likewise, youth employees cannot serve alcoholic beverages (though those over the age of 16 can work in restaurants where alcohol is sold and those over 14 can work in retail settings that sell alcohol, so long as alcohol accounts for less than half of the establishment's sales). In the interest of workplace safety, no one under the age of 18 is legally allowed to operate power equipment (like vehicles, saws or slicers) or equipment such as tractors and forklifts regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the Michigan equivalent, Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Young employees aged 14 and 15 are restricted from lifting over 35 pounds on the job (but those 16 and over aren't so lucky).
Minors in the Wolverine State are legally entitled to at least one 30-minute break for each five hours of continuous work and must make at least 85 percent of the current established minimum wage, per the Michigan Workforce Opportunity Act. Those under 20, however, may earn a "training hourly wage" of just $4.25 for their first 90 days of employment.
For many Michigan teens, that legendary summer working at the amusement park will be a formative experience, but it does come with at least one drawback: Work laws in Michigan do not guarantee overtime pay for minors working at amusement or recreational establishments, unless they're open for more than seven months each calendar year. Likewise, summer camp workers are exempt from the state's minimum wage and overtime regulations if they're employed for four months or less at a time.
Exceptions to the Rule
Michigan makes a few unique exceptions to its 14-year-old age limit. Kids aged 11 or older can legally work as golf caddies, bridge caddies or sports referees with a work permit. Similarly, those 13 and older can work as trap setters in what the state calls "certain agricultural service operations." Legal hours for agricultural processors and corn detasselers are flexible, as well.
Speaking of flexibility, some employed minors are exempt from the provisions of The Youth Employment Standards Act, which covers age limits, work permits, hours and rest periods. Exempted minors include those employed by a business owned by their parents or legal guardians, those selling newspapers and similar materials, those involved in farm work, minors with a written contract between their school and employer and, of course, kids doing chores at home. So long as they have verifying documents, high school graduates aren't required to have a work permit to be legally employed in Michigan.
Of course, the school district's issuing officer may not approve the work permit at all. This may happen if the officer deems the occupation hazardous, or the minor or employer's information is inadequate or incomplete or if the employment violates state or federal law. The officer can also revoke the permit due to poor school attendance or performance resulting from the employment, using the student's prior attendance and academic performance as a basis of comparison. If the work permit is revoked by the Michigan Department of Education, the minor may no longer legally work at the place of employment in question.
In the Performing Arts
Minors as young as 15 days old all the way up to 17 years of age may be approved to work in the performing arts in Michigan, but they'll need an approved Application for Performing Arts Authorization form. Like a regular work permit, this form can be downloaded and printed at Michigan.gov. This authorization covers professional gigs in the areas of film and music production, dancing, singing, modeling, live stage performances and more, and must be completed and submitted at least 10 days prior to the rehearsal or performance start date – whichever comes first.
The Application for Performing Arts Authorization form requires signatures from the parents or guardians of the minor, signatures of the employer and a doctor's statement confirming that the performance will not negatively affect the minor's health, in the case of performers under six years of age. The form must be submitted to the Michigan Department of Education's Office of Career and Technical Education for approval. Once officially approved, one form for each minor, written permission from the parent or guardian and the gig's posting requirements must be kept onsite at the workplace or location of the performance.
For minors in the performing arts, the state approves exceptions to the age rule on a case-by-case basis. So don't be shy with your work permits, stage moms and stage dads – especially since you can print them from home now.