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Information on Minors and Employment

Almost all minors under the age of 18 are subject to California's child labor protections. Under the California Labor Code, "minor" is defined as any person under the age of 18 years required to attend school under the provisions of the Education Code, and any person under age six. "Dropouts" are subject to California's compulsory education laws, and thus are subject to all state child labor law requirements. Emancipated minors, while subject to all California's child labor laws, may apply for a work permit without their parents' permission.

Child labor laws

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement's child labor law booklet contains comprehensive information about child labor laws, school attendance, wage, hour, and age requirements, restrictions, employer requirements and work permits.

For table summaries of child labor law requirements and restrictions arranged by age, and for a summary of penalties which may be imposed for violating child labor laws, click here.

The booklet also contains references and links to the state Labor Code, the Education Code and other relevant laws and regulations.

Work permits

Except in limited circumstances defined in law and summarized in the child labor law booklet, all minors under 18 years of age employed in the state of California must have a permit to work.

Prior to permitting a minor to work, employers must possess a valid permit to employ and work. The permit to employ and work are issued on the same form. A permit to employ and work in industries other than entertainment is usually issued by an authorized person at the minor's school. During summer months or when school is not in session the work permit is obtained from the superintendent of the school district in which the minor resides.

Typically, after an employer agrees to hire a minor, the minor obtains from his or her school a Department of Education form entitled "Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit". The form must be completed by the minor and the employer and signed by the minor's parent or guardian and the employer. After returning the completed and signed form to the school, school officials may issue the permit to employ and work.

Permits issued during the school year expire five days after the opening of the next succeeding school year and must be renewed.

Entertainment work permits

Minors aged 15 days to 18 years employed in the entertainment industry must have a permit to work, and employers must have a permit to employ, both permits being issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. These permits are also required for minors making phonographic recordings or who are employed as advertising or photographic models. Permits are required even when the entertainment is noncommercial in nature.

There is no fee to obtain an entertainment work permit. The permit can be obtained by the new on-line application process, by mail or in person. If you are a parent or guardian who wishes to apply for an Entertainment Work Permit for a Minor on-line, click on the Permits link above. If you wish to apply by mail or in person, the application for permission to work in the entertainment industry must be filled out completely and mailed, along with any required documents and a pre-addressed, stamped envelope, to any office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. To find the nearest DLSE office, use the division's office locator. Please note that the Van Nuys Office, located at 6150 Van Nuys Blvd, Room 100, (818-901-5484) is available for walk-in service. Effective August 15, 2011 the hours of the Van Nuys Minors Entertainment Work Permit Unit will change. Due to the current state budget constraints and inability to fully staff the Unit, the new hours will be Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Unit's office will be closed from noon to 1:00 p.m. We will continue to strive to offer the best service possible and believe the new hours will allow for enhanced efficiencies in the processing of permit applications. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

In addition to the standard six month Entertainment Work Permit, there is now a 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit which parents guardians can apply for on-line. The 10 day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit is subject to the following requirements:

  • Minor must be between the ages of 15 days and 16 years
  • Have never applied for a 6 Month Entertainment Permit
  • Have not previously applied for a 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit
  • There is a fee for the 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit.

Employers intending to employ minors in the entertainment industry must complete the application for permission to employ minors in the entertainment industry and submit it, along with proof of workers' compensation insurance coverage, to any Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office. To find a DLSE office, use the division's office locator.

Additional information

Assembly Bill 1900 (Chapter 1175, Statutes of 1994) also known as the Omnibus Child Labor Reform Act of 1993 became effective on January 1, 1995. Among other provisions, the bill added Labor Code 1393, authorizing the Labor Commissioner, Chief of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) within the Department of Industrial Relations, to grant exceptions to the limitation of the number of hours that 16- and 17-year-old minors may work in a day at an agricultural packing plant during peak harvest season when school is not in session. The law authorized the Labor Commissioner to grant an exemption to allow minors to work up to ten hours per day, rather than eight hours, if the additional work hours did not materially affect the safety and welfare of the minor. An application for an exemption shall be made by an employer on a form provided by the Labor Commissioner, and a copy of the application shall be posted at the employer's place of employment at the time the application is filed with the Division.

Employers must follow all relevant health and safety laws to keep young workers safe on the job. Visit Cal/OSHA's Web site for more information on health and safety laws and regulations in California.

Job safety and labor law tips are also available for a variety of industries in English and Spanish on the e-youngworkers Web site.