At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Work Permit?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A work permit is a legal document that allows someone under the legal age of consent to legally work at a place of employment. The requirements for this permit and the way in which a person can obtain a permit may differ among different countries and regions within a country. Most countries establish the legal age at which a person can work, so someone who wishes to work while under that age will need to obtain a permit to work legally. A work permit is typically issued by the government of a country or region in that country, and may require the signature of a parent or guardian.

Employment laws, especially child labor laws, in a country will typically indicate who needs a work permit and how that permit can be obtained. In the US, this is indicated not only by federal laws but also by state labor laws. The legal age to work in the US is 18 years old, and anyone under that age may need to obtain a work permit before he or she can work. Once a permit is obtained, there are still typically restrictions on how a person under the age of 18 can work, such as limits on hours a minor can work each day.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

In the US, a work permit can be obtained through the Department of Labor for the state in which a person wishes to work. There may also be a minimum age at which a person can obtain a permit and begin working, such as 14 years old. A minor will typically need to apply for and receive a job before he or she can obtain a work permit. This is because parts of the paperwork for a permit must be filled out and signed by the minor, a parent or guardian, and by the prospective employer of the minor.

The employer will usually have to provide a job description for the job a minor is seeking on the paperwork for a work permit, including details about the tasks expected for the minor while working. Certain jobs that are considered dangerous, such as working in a mine, typically cannot be obtained prior to the age of 18, even with a permit. Minors who wish to work in the entertainment industry typically require a different type of permit that can allow them to act, model, sing, or otherwise work in entertainment even under the minimum age of employment. There are also exceptions to work permit laws and a minor typically does not need a permit to work on a family farm, perform housework, and work in a business that is owned or operated by a parent.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Man with hands on his hips
      Man with hands on his hips