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School’s Out for Summer: Hiring Minors 101

by Jennifer Shaw and Melissa Whitehead | | May 20, 2024

It’s the time of year when many employers will be hiring minors for the summer, which comes with unique challenges and requirements. We highlight the key issues below.

Work Permits. With few exceptions, minors under 18 years old must have a permit to work and employers must have a permit to employ, before the minor may start work. These permits may be obtained from the minor’s school or, when school is not in session, from the superintendent of the minor’s school district. Generally, the minor will be the one to obtain this form, after the employer agrees to hire the minor. With some exceptions, work permits must be renewed at the start of each school year.

Hours. California law limits the number of hours minors may work per day and per week, as follows:

  Ages 16 and 17 Ages 14 and 15 Ages 12 and 13
 School in Session
  • Four hours on schooldays
  • Eight hours on non-schooldays and days preceding non-schooldays
  • 48 hours per week
  • Three hours on schooldays, outside school hours
  • Eight hours on non-schooldays
  • 18 hours per week
  • May not work on schooldays – only on holidays and vacations (and maybe weekends)

 School Not in Session
  • Eight hours per day
  • 48 hours per week
  • Eight hours per day
  • 40 hours per week
  • Eight hours per day
  • 40 hours per week
 Hours During Which Minors May Work
  • 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., except until 12:30 a.m. on days preceding non-schooldays
  • 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., except until 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day
  • 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., except until 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day

Allowing minors to work outside the hours restrictions listed above is a misdemeanor, and will result in significant penalties and the possibility of imprisonment.

Duties. Both state and federal laws limit the types of duties employers may assign to minors. For example, minors may not be employed in any jobs declared hazardous by the U.S. Department of Labor. California law also prohibits most minors from driving a vehicle on public highways or streets as part of their job duties.

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There are extensive restrictions and regulations related to hiring minors in California, and the above are just some of the most commonly encountered issues. For more information, read the California Labor Commissioner’s Information on Minors and Employment guidance and Child Labor Law Booklet.

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