Requirements for a Work Permit in California

By Chris Newton

Child labor laws are designed to protect minors interested in working. The laws specify regulations, requirements and specific rules that vary by state. In California, all minors are required to have a work permit to legally work, unless otherwise stated in the job details. Students must meet all school academic standards in order to maintain a valid work permit.


In California, any minor between the ages of 12 and 17 years old that is enrolled in a public or private school, or that has obtained special exemption from school attendance, is eligible for a work permit. Any minors who have dropped out or have been expelled from school are not eligible for work permits.

Obtaining a Permit

Minors interested in obtaining a work permit in California must first find a job and have an offer of employment. This is a requirement, due to fact that work permits are issued in accordance to the specific job. The student then will receive a Request for Work Permit and Statement of Intent to Employ Minor from the designated school office. The application then must be properly filled out by the student and employer, and the application must be signed by the minor's parent or guardian to show that it was approved. Once the application is completed, it will need to be returned to the same school office to issue the actual permit. Minors involved in theater, modeling, television, motion pictures or any other entertainment industry job are required to obtain a work permit through the California State Labor office.


Child labor laws aim to offer suitable and appropriate work opportunities and experiences for minors while keeping them safe and away from hazardous work environments and keeping them focused on their education and schooling. Children are restricted from working in work settings involving explosives, mining, radiation exposure, logging, roofing, driving, wrecking, demolition, saw milling or operating power-driving machinery, such as forklifts, baking machines or power saws.

Jobs that do not Require a Work Permit

There are a few job exceptions and job settings that do not require a minor to have a work permit in California. These include newspaper delivery, self-employment, odd jobs like babysitting and yard work, or children who work for their parents or guardians at a family-owned and operated farm. Minors who have obtained a high school diploma or have received a Certificated of Proficiency are not required to have a work permit for employment.

Work Hours

Minors ages 12 and 13 are not allowed to work at all during school days; however, when school is not in session during winter or summer breaks, students are eligible to work for eight hours a day and up to 40 hours per week. Minors ages 14 and 15 are allowed to work three hours a day on school days and eight hours on nonschool days up to a total of 18 hours a week during the school year. They can work eight hours a day up to 40 hours a week when school is not in session. Minors ages 16 and 17 are eligible to work four hours a day during school days or eight hours a day on nonschool days up to a total of 18 hours per week during the school year. They can work eight hours a day up to 40 hours a week when school is not in session.

About the Author

Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article