School’s Out for Summer: Hiring Minors 101

June 3, 2024

Here comes summer! Summer is a great time for minors to get some great work experience; teaching them the in’s and out’s of a workplace, responsibilities of employment, and beefing up that ever-important college application. As an employer, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for you to have some additional hands and to teach the youth of today more about your business and industry. When hiring minors though, there are some things that are different from your usual new hires. Don’t miss these important legalities! First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do to protect minors from being taken advantage of, and second, the penalties for violating these rules can really stack up and hurt your business. 

Work Permits

There are some exemptions, but most minor employees must obtain a work permit before they begin working. A work permit can be obtained at most high schools and/or district offices. The minor employee is generally in charge of obtaining this work permit from the appropriate office at their school 

When to Work? 

This is the most significant difference between hiring minors and non-minors; they may work different maximum hours based on their ages and school schedules. The Department of Labor has compiled the table below to make it a bit simpler to understand when your minor employees may work:

(WEE = Work Experience Education)


There are a small number of exceptions to paying minimum wage, and minors are one of them. However, the combination of federal exceptions and state exceptions in California make those allowable exceptions extremely small. We recommend paying minors minimum wage at the least (you can always pay them more if you’re so inclined!) Consult with an employment attorney if you want to pay sub-minimum wages to your minor employees. 

What Work Can a Minor Do?

Minors over the age of 14 enjoy a fairly wide spread of working opportunities. Those under 14 may only work in very limited circumstances, such as a paper route, in the entertainment industry, and certain agricultural roles. Unless you’re directing a movie and the child actor is represented, it’s probably best to steer clear of hiring those under 14. 

Minors under the age of 18 may never work in hazardous environments, and they may never be employed in a role requiring driving on public streets. This includes delivery driving! 

For more information about where and when a minor can work, see the Department of Industrial Relation’s Child Labor Laws Summary Chart.