Frequently Asked Questions: Child Labor

Does the state of West Virginia require minors under the age of eighteen to obtain a permit of any kind to run errands, babysit, or mow grass for a neighbor?

Not unless the neighbor is acting in the capacity of an employer and is hiring the minor as an actual employee of their business.  Such casual work outside of an employment relationship is not covered by state child labor laws.

As a business owner, may I employ my own child without having to obtain a work permit?

A parent or legal guardian may hire his or her own children to work for his or her solely owned business at any age without having to obtain a work permit in this state.  However, should there be additional owners such as partners, corporate officers, or limited liability members involved, the exemption for obtaining a work permit would no longer apply.

What is the minimum age that a child may go to work?

Fourteen is the minimum age that a minor may be legally employed unless that minor is working for a business solely owned by a parent or guardian, or the type of work being performed is not covered by state child labor laws.  Some examples of work that is not covered include agriculture and horticulture occupations that have not been declared hazardous by the United States Department of Labor, domestic services performed within the residence of the employer, acting, work relating to television, radio and other theatrical work, and the delivery of newspapers.

What types of permits are required in West Virginia before a minor may accept employment?

Fourteen and fifteen year olds must obtain a work permit before accepting any type of gainful employment in West Virginia.  Age certificates are only required by law when related to junior volunteer firefighting activities but may be required by employers as proof of age for sixteen and seventeen year olds.

How does a minor start the process of obtaining a work permit or certificate?

All work permits and age certificates are processed and issued by the Board of Education in the county where the minor child resides.  As the county superintendent of schools has the authority to authorize issuing officers throughout the school system, it’s possible someone within the minor’s own school has been authorized to issue such permits.  If not, the minor should contact the Board of Education in the county in which he or she resides to obtain forms and start the process.  Work permit and age certificate forms are available from both the County Boards of Education and the Division of Labor’s website @ www.labor.wv.gov.

Do age certificates have the same requirements as work permits?

Except for situations involving volunteer firefighting activities, age certificates are only issued when required by the employer.  When issued, they only require the promise of a job and proof of the minor’s age.  A work permit, however, is required before a fourteen or fifteen year old may be legally employed and requires the promise of a job, parental consent, verification the minor is attending school, and proof of age.

How do I obtain an application for a work permit or age certificate?

Instead of having two separate forms, work permit and age certificate forms now serve as both the application and the issued permit and/or certificate. For work permits, Sections A, B, and C of the form are to be completed by the employer, parent, and school registrar.  Once that information is obtained, the minor takes the completed form, along with proof of age, to someone authorized to issue work permits.  Once the form is reviewed by an issuing officer and approved, that individual will complete Section D and issue the work permit using the same form.  The same applies to age certificates.  The form is completed by the perspective employer and the minor.  Once completed, the minor takes the completed form, along with proof of age, to someone authorized to issue age certificates.  Once reviewed and approved, that individual will issue the age certificate using the same form.

Are there different requirements for minors that live out-of-state?

West Virginia child labor laws apply the same to all minors working in this state, regardless of where they reside.  That includes the requirement of having the work permit or age certificate issued by the superintendent of schools in the county in which the minor resides.  Those minors that live out-of-state are required to take a completed West Virginia work permit or age certificate form to the superintendent of schools in their home state and county for issuance.  Should that request be denied, the minor will not be eligible to work in West Virginia until the minor reaches the age where a work permit or age certificate is no longer required.

Does a minor have to be attending school to accept employment?

Unless already graduated from high school, fourteen and fifteen year olds must be attending school or be enrolled in a home school program in order to obtain a work permit.  Sixteen and seventeen year olds do not have to be attending school to obtain an age certificate.

Are there limitations concerning the type of work that a minor may be employed to perform?

There are many limitations concerning the type of work that can be performed by minors under the age of eighteen.  While the majority relate to fourteen and fifteen year olds, certain restrictions apply to sixteen and seventeen year olds as well.  For those occupations that are permissible for fourteen and fifteen year olds, it is easier to consider the occupations that are permissible than to look for those occupations that are not permitted.  A listing of permissible occupations for fourteen and fifteen year olds is provided in the General Reference Information for Child Labor and Child Labor Fact Sheet #3.  The United States Department of Labor has established seventeen occupations that are considered hazardous for all minors under the age of eighteen. (See General Reference Information for Child Labor & Child Labor Fact Sheet # 4)  In addition to these seventeen hazardous occupations, West Virginia state law also restricts minors under the age of eighteen from working in a bar or to be permitted, employed or suffered to sell, dispense or serve alcoholic beverages in any place where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted by law.

What are the hours a minor is permitted to work?

Sixteen and seventeen year olds are permitted to work the same hours as an adult.  There are no restrictions.  The permissible hours of work for fourteen and fifteen year olds are outlined as follows:

14 & 15 Year Olds May Not Work

  • Before 7:00 am or after 9:00 pm when school is NOT IN SESSION during summer break. (Memorial Day thru Labor Day)
  • Before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm on days when school is in session.
  • More than 8 hours per day on days when school is not in session, or more than 3 hours per day on any school day (including Friday).
  • More than 40 hours per week during weeks when school is not open OR more than 18 hours per week during any week that school is open for at least one day.
  • During school hours.

 

Is there a process to request permission for a fourteen or fifteen year old to work past 7:00pm during the school term or after 9:00 pm during the summer when school is not in session?

No, as the permissible hours of work for this age group are the same under both state and federal law, the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Labor will no longer issue a supervision permit allowing minors to work later hours.

Do homeschooled children have to follow the same guidelines for obtaining employment as those that attend public or private school?

Yes, home schooled children are required to follow the same requirements as any other minor that chooses to accept employment.  That includes obtaining the necessary permits, working age appropriate hours, and avoiding hazardous occupations.  Home schooled children may obtain a work permit or age certificate from the superintendent of schools in the county in which he or she resides.  Instead of the school registrar, the parent or guardian overseeing the minor’s curriculum may complete Section C of the work permit application relating to school attendance.

If a fourteen or fifteen year old has already graduated from high school or its equivalent, do state child labor laws still apply?

Fourteen and fifteen year olds that have graduated from high school are not required to obtain a work permit or adhere to the standards relating to hours of work for this age group.  However, hazardous occupation restrictions will still apply.

May a minor child work as a lifeguard or be employed to give swimming lessons?

Yes, fifteen year olds may be employed as life guards when properly trained and certified in aquatics and water safety by the American Red Cross or a similar certifying organization.  For the purpose of giving swimming lessons, the minor must obtain additional certification as a swimming instructor. Fourteen year olds may not serve as either a lifeguard or swimming instructor in any capacity. (See Child Labor Fact Sheet # 3)

Are minor’s permitted to serve as junior volunteer firefighters?

Sixteen and seventeen year olds may register as a junior volunteer fireman after meeting the following conditions.  He or she must first complete the minimum training requirements of the WVU Fire Service Extension Firefighter Training Section One (or its equivalent), obtain the written consent of his or her parent or guardian to perform such duties, and obtain an age certificate from the superintendent of schools in the county where he or she resides. (See Child Labor Fact Sheet # 7)

Are there any occupations that are exempt from West Virginia child labor requirements?

Yes, all of the following occupations and/or situations are exempt.  1.) Casual work performed outside of an employment relationship such as babysitting, running errands, etc.  2.) Work defined as agricultural or horticultural.  3.) The delivering of newspapers.  4.) Acting or theatrical work for TV or radio.  5.) Domestic employment performed in the home of the employer.  6.) Work performed for a business solely owned by a parent or guardian.  Although these occupations are generally exempt, federal child labor hazardous occupation restrictions may still apply.

If a minor child resides in West Virginia and wishes to work in another state, what requirements apply?

In order for state child labor laws to apply, the minor must actually work in West Virginia.  Should a minor child residing in West Virginia seek employment outside of West Virginia, the child labor laws that apply in the state where the minor will be working will apply.

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