Requirements for a Work Permit in California

By Dan Ketchum - Updated October 19, 2018

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 passed significant legislation to protect youngsters at work, but it's not alone– as is the norm, any minors employed in the state of California need a work permit (formally known as a Permit to Employ and Work) in order to work legally on the Best Coast. Per the California Labor Code, the legal working age in California is 18; anyone under 18 is covered under the state's child labor protection laws and needs a permit.

So, if you've got an ambitious young worker under your care, you'll need to get cracking on getting a work permit in California. Cali makes the process fairly painless, requiring either a quick trip to school or a jaunt over to the state's Industrial Relations website.

Student Work Permits

Typically, minors looking to work legally in California get a permit through their school. If you're the guardian of a Californian minor and an employer has agreed to hire her, head down to the kid's school and ask for Department of Education form CDE B1-1, a Statement of Intent to Employ a Minor and Request for Work Permit.

This form requires basic identification data from the minor and parents, like name, birth date, grade, contact info and Social Security number. The employer will also have to provide contact info and fill in a section addressing the nature of the work to be performed. Employers must also confirm that the potential employee is covered by workers compensation insurance and agree to avoid discriminating against employees on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex or sexuality, age or physical or mental handicap. Both the employer and the parents or legal guardian must sign the form and return it to the school, after which school officials may issue a permit.

Entertainment Work Permits

The creative economy in Los Angeles alone accounts for about 457,400 jobs, according to 2016 data from the Otis Report, so it should come as no surprise that California imposes a few special rules for entertainment work permits.

When minors aged from 15 days to 18 years work in the entertainment industry, California requires a permit to work as well as a permit to employ. Fortunately, both of these forms can be picked up from your local Labor Commissioner's Office and mailed in or accessed and submitted entirely online at the California Department of Industrial Relations' website. Parents or guardians will need the form DLSE-277, also called "Application for Permission to Work in Entertainment Industry." Depending on the age of your child, you'll need to provide attendance records from school authorities, a birth certificate or passport copy and health records from the minor's doctor. Signatures from parents, school officials and possibly doctors (for talent under one month of age) are required before submitting the application online or sending the paper copies to the nearest Labor Commissioner's Office. On the other side of the coin, employers must submit an application for permission to employ minors in the entertainment industry to the LCO as well.

For entertainment industry jobs, work permits typically remain valid for six months, though an online-only 10-day temporary work permit is available. There's no fee for submitting the application for the standard permit, but you'll still need a permit even if the creative work is noncommercial in nature.

More to Know

Even emancipated minors still need to apply for a work permit in California – the only difference here is that they don't need their parents' permission to apply.

Getting a work permit for minors isn't the end-all, be-all of child labor laws in the Golden State. California imposes all kinds of protective legal restrictions on young workers, including limits pertaining to school attendance, minimum wages, caps on hours and more. Before committing to a permit, familiarize yourself with these laws in the state Labor Commissioner's Child Labor Laws handbook, available for free online at the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations' website.

About the Author

As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.

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