The federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for a minor to be employed. Many states, however, do require them for workers of certain ages. In addition to state labor departments, school guidance counselors might know if permits or proof-of-age certificates are required in that particular state. The Department of Labor will issue age certificates if the minor employee's state does not issue them, or if the minor is requested by his or her employer to provide one. However, the vast majority of age certificates are issued by states.
The purpose of these certificates is to protect the employer from prosecution for employing an under-aged worker. The possession of an age certificate constitutes a good faith effort to comply with minimum age requirements.
Some states require work permits or age certificates for young workers. In fact, most of the age certificates issued to young workers are issued by states. The fines for violation of this requirement can result in a monetary penalty for the employer. Consult your state department of labor for specific information on this issue.
Webpages on this Topic
Must A Youth Have A Permit To Work?
Additional information on child labor laws.
Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Frequently Asked Questions
A section of these FAQs cover child labor and work permits.
Regulations on Age Certificates
This regulation explains the mechanism for obtaining an age certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor.
General Information About the FLSA
An overview of many aspects of the FLSA, ranging from child labor to enforcement.
elaws Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Advisor - Child Labor Rules
This Advisor answers questions about workers and businesses that are subject to the FLSA's child labor rules.
Employment/Age Certificate Issuance Practice Under State Child Labor Laws and Programs
A table indicating which states require and issue age certificates and work permits.
State Labor Offices/State Laws
Information on state minimum wage rates and other state child labor topics.
State Departments of Labor Websites
Links to state departments of labor websites and contact information for each department.
Regulations on this Topic
29 CFR §570.5 - Authorized Certificates and Their Effect