Start of school means limits to work hours for teens - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Start of school means limits to work hours for teens

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TUMWATER, WA – The start of school signals changes to work hours and requirements for teens. Employers have a September 30 deadline to renew and have on file permission from parents and schools for teens to work during the school year.

“Parents, schools, teens, and employers all play an important role in determining work hours and duties for youth,” said Josie Bryan, child labor specialist with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). “This annual review allows everyone to take stock of any changes that need to be made.”

Employers are responsible for completing and keeping on file a Parent/School Authorization for teen work. This permission form must be renewed by September 30 each year. It must include the start and quit times and job duties, and be signed by the employer, teen, parent and school authority.

In addition to the authorization, Bryan noted employers should keep a copy of the teen worker’s proof of age, such as a birth certificate, driver’s license or passport.

For teens working in non-agricultural jobs, the breakdown of hours they are allowed to work during school weeks looks like this:

  • 14- and 15-year-olds: Three hours/day between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. for no more than 16 hours, six days a week
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: Four hours/day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (midnight Friday-Saturday nights), for no more than 20 hours, six days a week.

Teens ages 16 and 17 can work up to 28 hours per week, with six hour shifts during the school week, if they have special permission from their school and parents. “School officials shouldn’t approve any more hours if a review of the student’s progress indicates additional work hours will be detrimental in school,” Bryan said.

A list of work hours for teens working in agricultural jobs during weeks school is in session can be found at L&I's teen worker webpage.

Bryan made clear students can’t work until after school hours. A youth who is homeschooled must follow the school district hours in that area, she said.

Employers must have a minor work permit endorsement on their business license to legally hire teens. The form is available through the state Business Licensing Service.

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