Legal Age to Work in Iowa

Minimum Age to Work in IA

Iowa (IA) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Requires work permits. May work 4 hours per day on school days, up to 28 hours per week when school is in session.
16-17Employers may require work permits. Prohibits occupations involving operation of laundry, dry cleaning, or dyeing machinery, and dangerous/ hazardous chemicals.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

Iowa Child Labor Laws

Because several occupations prove unsuitable for young people, laws enforcing restrictions on the employment of minors remain necessary in the State of Iowa. Child labor laws outline acceptable work hours and positions as well as the obligatory paperwork needed on file to protect both employee and employer.

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How Old Do You Have to Be to Work in Iowa?

Though minors become eligible for more lucrative and demanding work at the age of 14, individuals as young as 10 years old may work street trades with the proper permits. Jobs in modeling and migrant labor allow individuals younger than fourteen to participate in gainful employment, though specific paperwork must remain on file with the employer. When a minor reaches 14 years of age, they are able to work in certain areas of retail and food service, as well as work in agriculture, caddying on golf courses, selling gas and oil, and performing office and clerical work.

Hour Restrictions

Youth under the age of sixteen must adhere to hour restrictions designed to protect their health and educational progress. When school stands in session in the State of Iowa, youths may work up to four hours a day and 28 hours per week. Minors may only work after school hours and between 7:00am and 7:00pm. During the summer or other school recesses lasting at least a week, Iowa youths may work up to eight hours a day and clock a maximum of 40 hours a week. Additionally, if the schedule of a minor calls for a shift totaling five or more hours, the individual must receive a 30-minute break.

Special Hour Restrictions
While basic hour restrictions apply to most situations, specialized circumstances call for varied limitations. Sixteen year olds only require hour restrictions while working in the transmission, distribution, or delivery of goods or messages. Youths working street trades, such as delivering newspapers, magazines, or circulars, may work between 4:00am and 7:00pm during periods when school stands in session, or until 8:30pm during vacation periods. Migrant laborers between the ages of twelve and sixteen may work from 5:00am to 7:30pm during the school year, and between 5:00am and 9:00pm during summer breaks and holidays. Lastly, minors under the age of 16 who work as models may work for three or fewer hours a day for up to 12 hours a month. As long as written parental consent remains on file, youth models may work between the hours of 7:00am and 10:00pm.

Required Paperwork

Work Permits

Any employed minor aged fourteen or fifteen years must acquire a work permit. These forms usually come from a school guidance counselor, but summer time employees must learn how to get a work permit in the summer.

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

The state of Iowa requires all employees under 16 to have an employment certificate n file with their employer at all times.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

Students can find applications for working papers at their local Workforce Development center, or online at the Iowa Department of Labor webpage

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?

    • Access an “Iowa Child Labor Permit” application on the DOL website.
    • Aspiring underage workers must fill out the “Minor” section of the form, print it out and have their legal guardian and potential employer fill out their respective sections of the document.
    • The employer keeps this completed form, but must email or fax a copy to Iowa’s Child Labor Division within three days of the minor’s start date. This will validate the application and permit the teen to legally perform tasks for the employer.

Certificate of Age
While work permits are unnecessary for their age group, 16 and 17 year olds must provide proof of age in order to join the workforce. This simply requires teens to supply employers with a copy of their birth certificate, state-issued ID, passport or driver’s license before starting their job.

Restricted Professions

Occupations Prohibited for Minors under 16
Since Since maintaining the health and well-being of underage workers is a primary concern of the state of Iowa, There are multiple Child Labor laws that outline which occupations prove too dangerous for minors. In most cases, minors must adhere to these restrictions until they turn 18. However, some jobs become accessible to individuals at age 16, though qualifications may apply. Jobs unavailable to fourteen and fifteen year olds in Iowa include occupations in the following sectors or settings:

  • Manufacturing or Construction
  • Insurance
  • Real Estate
  • Hotels or Motels
  • Restaurants
  • Local Government
  • Lumberyard
  • Garages or Auto Repair
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  • Greenhouses and Nurseries
  • Printing and Publishing Firms

Occupations Prohibited for Minors under 18
Some jobs and industries remain too hazardous for working minors of any age. The following list outlines the prohibited occupations and work activities for Iowa youth under the age of eighteen:

  • Any Exposure to Explosives
  • Logging or Sawmills
  • Using Power-Driven Machinery
  • Exposure to Radioactive Materials
  • Slaughter or Meat Packaging
  • Using Saws
  • Wrecking or Demolition
  • Roofing
  • Excavating
  • Mining
  • Operating Motor Vehicles
  • Working in Foundries
  • Laundry or Dry Cleaning
  • Exposure to Lead Fumes and Other Dangerous Chemicals

source: Iowa child labor laws

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