Virginia Works Newsletter
September-October 2006


Protecting Your Teen at Work

Each year the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry issues more than 10,000 employment certificates to teenagers. Most of those certificates are issued during the summer months when school is not in session. Learn how you can make the work experience for a teen a safe, healthy and positive one.

Protecting the health and safety of children is one of the paramount interests of the Commonwealth. It is important therefore to remember that every year nearly seventy teens die from work injuries in the United States and another 84,000 are injured badly enough to seek medical attention. Teens are most likely to be injured when they work in occupations from which they are prohibited by law.*

  1. At what age can a minor child be legally employed in Virginia?

    Generally, a child must be at least 14 years of age in order to work in Virginia.

  2. What are the primary requirements for minors, over the age of 14, who want to work?

  3. Minors 14 or 15 years of age:
    • must have a work permit
    • have limited work hours
    • are prohibited from working certain jobs

    Minors 16 and 17 do not have to obtain work permits and do not have  limited hours, but are barred from working in certain hazardous jobs.

  4. Where can a work permit be obtained?

    Work permits can be obtained at most public middle schools and high schools and some private schools; ask for the Child Labor Work Permit Issuing Officer.

  5. What hours can a 14 or 15 year old work?

    A 14 or 15 year old may work:

    • not more than 3 hours per day on school days
    • not more than 18 hours per week in a school week
    • not more than 8 hours per day on a non-school day
    • not more than 40 hours per week in a non-school week
    • not before 7 a.m. or after 7p.m., except between June 1 st and Labor Day, when they may work as late as 9 p.m.
    • not work during school hours unless enrolled in a school work-training program

    A 14 or 15 year old must be given a 30 minute rest or meal period after 5 hours of continuous work.

  6. What jobs are minors prohibited from working?

    Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in several occupations that are considered unhealthy, unwholesome or dangerous. Minors aged 16 or 17 are barred from working a shorter list of particularly hazardous occupations.

    A list of hazardous occupations that minors are barred from working may be found by visiting the Department of Labor and Industry website at and following the links to labor and employment and frequently asked questions.

    It is important to know the child labor laws and to make sure your working teen also knows those laws. You should keep in mind that the child labor laws provide a basic level of protection but do not cover all risks at work. Additionally, your teen may be exposed to risks because he/she does not understand risks at work. The following list of questions was developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for parents of working teens:

    Tasks: What tasks is your teen asked to do? Could any of these tasks cause an injury? For example is he or she asked to lift heavy objects, work alone at night, or use chemical cleaners?

    Training: Has your teen been trained to do assigned tasks safely? Is he or she trained before being asked to do a new task?

    The Workplace: Are there hazards in the workplace, such as slippery floors, locked or blocked exits or machines without safety guards? Does your teen know how to report hazards? Is the teen ever left to work alone?

    Supervision: Is a supervisor always nearby? Does he or she listen to employees’ concerns? Is your teen comfortable talking to the supervisor?

    Safety Equipment: Does the job require goggles, gloves, special shoes or other safety equipment? If so, does your teen have and use this equipment?

Depending on the answers you get to the preceding questions, maybe your teen’s job is not the right one for him or her.

*National Institute of Health, Are you a Working Teen

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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 12:45 PM