Legal Age to Work in Wisconsin

Minimum Age to Work in WI

Wisconsin (WI) Quick Reference Table

Age Summary of Requirements
14-15 Must have a work permit and work for a maximum of four hours a day and 18 hours a week during the school year. Can work for a total 24 hours during a partial school week. Work hours must stay between 7:00am and 11:00pm.
16-17 week May work up to 5 hours a day, 26 hours a week or 32 hours for partial school weeks. Unable to work before 5:00am or after 11:00pm.
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.

How Old Do You Have to be to Work in Wisconsin?

In the State of Wisconsin, minors must stand at least 14 years of age in order to work in what the state considers gainful occupations. In order for employers of the state to hire minors, youths must first acquire work permits. They can receive employment papers applications from their school’s principal or guidance counselor, or figure out how to get a work permit in the summer after the school year is over.

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How to Get a Work Permit

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

Regardless of the season, all minors working outside of the agricultural field must have a work permit before they can work in the state of Wisconsin.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

There are various locations throughout the state where teens can get their employment papers, including city hall, their local school board office and the Chamber of Commerce building.

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?

    • After finding a job, minors must receive a letter of “Intent to Employ” from their future boss, stating that they will hire the teen, and detailing the tasks they will perform.
    • The youth’s parent or guardian must also provide written consent for their child to work.
    • These young adults must also gather their birth certificate or state ID, social security card and a ten dollar permit fee.
      • The employer must reimburse the minor on or before the date of their first paycheck.
    • The issuing officer will approve the forms and give the teen their work permit.

Permit officers must receive certain information from each minor before moving forward with the issuance of work permits. Minors must provide proof of age, i.e. in the form of birth certificates or appropriate state identifications, written consent of parents or guardians, valid social security cards, and payment of the permit fee, typically $10.00 and reimbursed by the employer at a later date. A minor must also present a written intent to hire from the potential employer, which would include job duties, hours, and the time of day of all work performed. A permit officer may refuse to issue a work permit if deemed in the best interest of the child, with no permit issued for any type of employment prohibited by the State of Wisconsin.

Exceptions to Wisconsin work permit requirements include the following:

  • Minors employed in agriculture
  • Minors working in or around a home and not in connection with a potential business
  • Volunteer work for a nonprofit organization, not as an employee
  • Public entertainment or exhibition
  • Street trades for fundraising for private or public schools as well as nonprofit organizations
  • Most apprenticeships

Jobs Available to Wisconsin Minors

While the minimum age to work stands at 14, exceptions to the rules allow children as young as 12 to work in Wisconsin. Such jobs include most positions in agriculture, street trades, such as delivering newspapers, school lunch programs, babysitting in private homes, and golf course caddies. In addition, a minor standing 12 years of age may also work in a business owned by a parent as long as the work remains allowed by state labor laws. Minors under the age of 14 must follow all work permit permissions, as well.

State child labor laws make a general distinction between younger teens and older teens; however, Wisconsin minors may gain acceptable employment through a variety of suitable businesses. Work found in arcades, bowling alleys, roller skating rinks, theaters, stadiums, and arenas may fall into acceptable locations for minors 14 and older. Certain machinery at each location may remain prohibited; however, most general employment remains available. For minors 16 and over, work in restaurants, hotels, factories, commercial cleaning, hospitals, landscaping, lifeguarding, nursing homes, and service stations remain acceptable arena of work. The type of employment allowed at such locations usually increases with age, though most still require adult supervision in order to complete properly and safely until reaching adulthood in the eyes of the law.

Prohibited Occupations

The State of Wisconsin lists certain occupations as hazardous to all minors between the ages of 12 and 17. The list includes:

  • Adult bookstores
  • Use of bakery machines
  • Mining, logging, manufacturing, meat packing, processing, or rendering
  • Wrecking or demolition
  • Working in a confined space
  • Selling, serving, or dispensing liquor
  • Excavating involving a trench four feet deep or greater
  • Roofing operations
  • Operating power-driven saws or shears
  • Working with any radioactive substance
  • Operating a motor vehicle on public roads as a regular job duty (i.e. a taxi)
  • Operating, setting up, or cleaning meat and food slicers

In contrast, certain activities otherwise prohibited by Wisconsin Child Labor Laws may become exempted if falling under a “student learner” provision. A student learner remains defined as a student of an accredited school who earns employment on a part-time basis to obtain both scholastic credit and employment training under a bona fide written school-work training program agreement. To enter into a school-work training agreement, the provision should include the name of the student learner, a signature of the parent/guardian, employer, and school principal, and needs to indicate the amount of supervision, hazard, scheduling, and all safety stipulations. The minor must also stand above 16 years of age.

Restrictions on Work Hours

State and federal laws do not limit the hours minors 16 and over may work, with the exception of working during school hours. For minors between the ages of 14 and fifteen, different restrictions take place. On school days, minors may only work up to three hours and only up to 18 hours a week, between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm. On non-school days, minors may work up to eight hours and up to 40 hours a week. For the time period of June 1 through Labor Day, the daily and weekly hourly restrictions remain the same, except the permitted time of day extends to 9:00pm.

Additional child labor laws prohibit work for certain occupations and may receive hourly limitations, as well. Minors under the age of 16 may work for more than one employer during the same day or week but must still meet the hours and time of day restrictions. In contrast, minors under the age of 18 may not work more than six consecutive hours without receiving 30-minute, duty-free meals. In the case of minors 16 and 17 employed after 11:00pm, the youth must receive at least eight hours of rest between the end of one shift and the start of the next.

source: Wisconsin child labor laws

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