Legal Age to Work in Illinois

Minimum Age to Work in IL

Illinois (IL) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Employment certificates must be issued by the school district and filed with the Department of Labor confirming that a minor is old enough to work.
16-17Does not specifically prohibit jobs. There are 17 listed Hazardous Occupations: if any of them apply, it would be prohibited
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

Illinois Child Labor Laws

The minimum age to work in the State of Illinois rests at 14. Fourteen and fifteen year olds fall under the legal status of “minor” under state law and must obtain work permits from local school administrative offices and file the forms with the State Department of Labor for employment eligibility. 16 and 17 year olds also exist as minors in the eyes of the state. However, jobs for 16 year olds and jobs for 17 year olds generally carry far fewer restrictions. Sixteen and seventeen year olds do not need to file work permits with the State Department of Labor.

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Gaining Employment as a Minor in Illinois

Youth work permits required by the State of Illinois serve as legal verification of age and ability to hold a job. The forms also stand as binding agreements between potential employers and the State to prevent employment from interfering with the formal education of minors. Several rules and regulations restrict the hours employers may impose upon minors, when minors may work, in what occupations, and to what degree. After acquiring work permits, minors must fill out and submit the forms to prospective employers, who then provide exact details of proposed hours, job settings, and responsibilities specific to each underage worker.

Illinois child labor laws require the forms receive further review from the local school administrators who initially issued the documents. The schools ratify the work permits with the issuance of an official certificate of employment minors must provide to employers. Employers must keep the certificates on file, on site, at all times. The permits remain valid for one year, after which minors and employers must renew the legally sanctioned agreements by applying for new employment certificates and filling out the documents accordingly.

Restrictions on Jobs for Minors Ages 14 & 15

Jobs for teenagers between the legal working ages of fourteen and fifteen come with several restrictions in the State of Illinois. Labor laws limit the hours minors may work, the specific duties assigned while employed, and specific occupations applicants can assume. Employers must also provide minors one 30-minute break for every five, consecutive hours worked. Federal labor laws support the limitations and restrictions instituted by the State. The hours minors may work must adhere to the following guidelines while school remains in session:

  • Hours worked must fall between 7:00am and 7:00pm.
  • Hours may not exceed 8 total hours of school and work combined on any given day
  • Minors 14 and 15 may not work more than 3 hours in a given school day or 8 hours on a non-school day
  • No more than 6 consecutive days of work.
  • Total hours may not exceed 24 in a given week.

During summer break, restrictions on how many hours a 14 or 15 year old can work lessen to allow for minors to work between 7:00am and 9:00pm. Minors may also work up to 48 hours per week; however, the teenage workers must still comply with restrictions disallowing more than six consecutive days of work. The State of Illinois defines summer break as beginning June 1 of the calendar year and ending the corresponding Labor Day holiday.

Motion Picture/Theatre/Television/Radio Employment

Illinois requires 14, 15, and 16 year old residents looking for jobs involving video or radio productions to go through the same protocol of obtaining work permits to gain employment. Minors coming from out of state to assume roles in movie, television, radio, or theatre productions must acquire the necessary forms for work as a minor in the State of Illinois regardless of other home-state statutes.

Restricted Occupations

Although limited, minors adhere to restrictions regarding occupations available. Youth work permit holders must comply with the restrictions at all times. Employers must also adhere to the restrictions and may not employ workers under the legal working age of 16 in any of the following capacities:

  • Logging and/or Sawmilling
  • Window Washing using Scaffolding, Ladders, or other Hoisting Apparatus
  • Use of Motor Vehicles
  • Laundry, Dry-Cleaning, Rug Repair/Restoration/Cleaning
  • Use of Power-Driven Machinery, i.e. slicers, chippers, conveyor belts, saws, etc.
  • Demolition/Construction
  • Gas Station/Fueling Station Jobs (including retail)
  • Work in Restaurants, Pubs, Bars, or Eateries Selling Alcohol for Consumption or General Sale, i.e. Bowling Alleys, Billiard Rooms, Skating Rinks, Pool Rooms
  • Mining/Work in Quarries
  • Manufacturing Using Power-Driven Machinery (administrative positions exempt)
  • Excavation
  • Slaughtering, Meat-Packing/Processing
  • Law Enforcement or Security Jobs Requiring Brandishing of Weapons
  • Medical Positions Involving the Handling of Bodily or Potentially Hazardous Materials
  • Textile Jobs Involving Dyes or Work Involving Paints or other Chemicals
  • Transportation/Manufacturing of Explosives
  • Public Delivery Services
  • Roofing
  • Occupations Related To or Involving The Handling of Radioactive materials or Substances


While jobs for fourteen year olds and fifteen year olds largely carry strict regulations, several employment opportunities allow for workers under the age of 14 to legally work in the State of Illinois. Officiating jobs in youth sports leagues represent jobs available to 12 year olds and 13 year olds. Thirteen year olds may also work as golf caddies at private country clubs and public courses. Jobs accepted by Illinois Law for young teens also include babysitting, yard work, and miscellaneous chores in private residents with consent from legal guardians.

Another legal exception afforded by Illinois child labor laws include the ability of minors to work as busboys, dishwashers, and in culinary capacities as part of military veteran’s clubs, fraternities or other general orders, and private clubs. The exceptions do not allow for employment in organizations serving park districts or exhibitive entities, such as theme parks, arcades, or other “places of amusement”.

Places to Find Work as a Minor in Illinois

Despite restrictions and regulations, Illinois offers young persons ages 14 to 17 numerous opportunities to find gainful employment. Jobs you can work at 16 in Illinois include positions in general retail, fast food, fashion retail, department stores, and customer service in addition to jobs for 14 year olds and jobs for 15 year olds exempt by law. Where a 17 year old can work in the State of Illinois largely mirrors the jobs available to sixteen year olds. At 18, workers assume all legal liabilities of adults and may work in most industries without restriction.

source: Illinois child labor laws

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