Legal Age to Work in Illinois

Minimum Age to Work in IL

Illinois (IL) Quick Reference Table

Age Summary of Requirements
14-15 Must Possess Employment certificates.
16-17 Few work restrictions aside from the 17 listed Hazardous Occupations: if any of them apply, it would be prohibited
18-20 Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21 Able 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

School guidance counselors typically issue youth work permits to minors looking to enter the work force. These documents serve as legal verification of age and ability to hold a job in the state of Illinois. The forms also stand as binding agreements between potential employers and the State to prevent employment from interfering with the formal education of minors. Here are some facts about necessary working papers and how to get a work permit in the summer.

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

Minors under the age of 16 must have a certificate of employment before gaining employment.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

Applications are available online at the Illinois Department of Labor website.

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?

    • Access the Employment Certificate form on the Illinois DOL webpage.
    • Open the form and set up a password for returning to the site
    • Complete the form and submit it to the Department
      • Print the document, which must receive the signature of a potential employer and a legal guardian upon hiring.
    • The department will issue the work permit via email
      • Permits are valid for one year.

Restrictions on Work Hours for Illinois Minors

Several rules and regulations restrict the hours employers may impose upon minors. These guidelines affect when minors may work, in what occupations, and to what degree.

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,  and the specific duties they can perform. Employers must also provide minors one 30-minute break for every five, consecutive hours of work. The hours minors may work must adhere to the following guidelines while school remains in session:

  • Working hours must fall between 7:00am and 7:00pm.
  • Minors must maintain a maximum of 8 total hours of school and work combined on any given day
  • Minors 14 and 15 may work up to 3 hours  during the week, or 8 hours on a non-school day
  •  6 or fewer consecutive days of work.
  • Total weekly hours  must reach 24 or lower.

During summer break, restrictions for 14 or 15 year olds lessen to allow for minors to work between 7:00am and 9:00pm. Minors may also work up to 48 hours per week; however, they must still comply with restrictions disallowing more than six consecutive days of work. 

Motion Picture/Theatre/Television/Radio Employment

Illinois requires 14, 15, and 16 year old residents looking for jobs in 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

Illinois minors must adhere to occupational restrictions at all times. Employers must also uphold these laws by refusing to employ workers under the legal age for the following tasks:

  • 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 workers under the age of 14 to legally work in the State of Illinois. Officiating jobs in youth sports leagues represent jobs are 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 for young teens also include babysitting, yard work, and miscellaneous chores in private residents, provided these youths have consent from legal guardians.

Another legal exception to Illinois child labor laws include the ability of minors to work for military veterans clubs, fraternities and other private organizations. Minors in these positions may perform tasks as busboys and dishwashers. 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 or fashion retail, fast food, retail, department stores, and customer service At 18, workers assume all legal liabilities of adults and may work in most industries unrestricted.

source: Illinois child labor laws

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