Wisconsin Employment of Minors Guide

This page was formerly named ERD-4758-P

Minimum Ages

Minors must be at least 14 years of age to be employed or permitted to work in most gainful occupations. Younger minors may be employed or permitted to work as follows:

12 years of age

Other

Work Permits

Most Wisconsin employers hiring or permitting minors between the ages of 12 and 15 to work must possess a valid work permit for each minor before work may be performed. The work permit establishes a minor's proof of age and ensures that the employer, parent/guardian, and minor are aware of the employment of minors laws and regulations.

The exceptions to the permit requirement are

Work permits may be obtained from one of the state's employment of minors permit officers, most of whom are located in school offices.

The permit officer will refuse to issue a work permit or street trades permit if the minor seems physically unable to do the work or if refusal seems to be in the best interest of the minor. A permit officer cannot issue a work permit for employment prohibited by state employment of minors regulations.

The following information must be provided to the permit officer before a work permit can be issued:

Street Trade Permits

Persons who engage minors to sell, offer for sale, solicit, collect, display or distribute newspapers or magazines, or other products or services on any street, in any public place, or door-to-door, must obtain a street trades permit for each minor. These permits may be obtained from any work permit officer. Persons who engage minors in fundraising for nonprofit organizations, public or private schools need not obtain a street trades permit provided no employer-employee relationship exists between the parties.

Posting Requirement

All employers of minors except those hiring minors for domestic service or agricultural work are required by law to display an informational poster, ERD 9212-P, entitled "Hours and Times of Day Minors May Work in Wisconsin" in places where minors are employed or permitted to work.

Employment Generally Prohibited To Minors

State law prohibits the use of minors to perform hazardous work. A complete listing of the work listed as hazardous can be found in the Wisconsin Administrative Code, § DWD 270.12270.13. In some instances the hazard involves the entire worksite while in other instances a particular machine or activity is prohibited. The following list contains some of the more common hazards:

Hazardous to all minors

Hazardous to minors under age 16

Meal Periods

Minors are not permitted to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a 30-minute duty free meal break. Meal periods should be near the usual times of 6 a.m., 12 a.m., 6 p.m. and 12 p.m.

Employment-Related Injury

Employers who employ minors without a work permit may be assessed an amount equal to the workers compensation settlement for any work-related injury the minor experiences. If the minor was injured while performing prohibited work, the employer may be required to pay the minor an amount equal to twice the workers compensation settlement in addition to the settlement.

Penalties

An employer who commits one of the following acts may be required to forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $1,000 for each day of the first offense:

For the second or subsequent violations within 5 years, the employer may be fined not less than $250 nor more than $5,000 for each day of the second or subsequent offense, or imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both.

An employer who employs a minor in violation of the hours or time of day limitations set by department regulation shall be liable for an amount equal to twice the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in violation per day or per week, whichever is greater.

A parent or guardian permitting a minor under his or her responsibility to be employed or to work in violation of any order of the department may be required to forfeit not less than $10 nor more than $250 for each day of the first offense. For a second or subsequent violation within 5 years, the offender may be required to forfeit not less than $25 or more than $1,000 for each day.

Hours and Times of Day Minors May Work in Wisconsin

State and federal laws do not limit the hours that minors 16 years of age or over may work, except that they may not be employed or permitted to work during hours of required school attendance under Wis. Stat. § 118.15.

State and federal laws also permit minors under 16 to work up to seven days per week in the delivery of newspapers and agriculture. In most other types of labor, minors under 16 may only work six days a week.

Most employers must obtain work permits for minors before permitting them to work.

Maximum Hours of Work for 14 & 15 year-old minors After Labor Day through May 31 June 1 through Labor Day
Daily Hours
Non-School Days 8 hours 8 hours
School Days 3 hours 3 hours
Weekly Hours
Non-School Weeks 40 hours 40 hours
School Weeks 18 hours 18 hours
Permitted Time of Day 7 am - 7 pm 7 am - 9 pm

Employers subject to both federal and state laws must comply with the more stringent section of the two laws.

State employment of minors laws prohibit work during times that minors are required to be in school, except for students participating in work experience and career exploration programs operated by the school.

Minors under 16 years of age are limited to the maximum hours and time of day restrictions even though they may work for more than one employer during the same day or week

Minors under 18 years of age may not work more than 6 consecutive hours without having a 30-minute, duty free meal period.

Minors 16 and 17 years of age who are employed after 11:00 pm must have 8 hours of rest between the end of one shift and the start of the next shift.

Minimum Wage for minors is $7.25 per hour. Employers may pay an "Opportunity Wage" of $5.90 per hour for the first 90 days of employment. On the 91st day, the wage must increase to $7.25 per hour

For further information about the federal employment of minors laws call (608) 441-5221, or write to U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division.

For further information about the state employment of minors laws, call the Equal Rights Division in Madison (608) 266-6860 or Milwaukee (414) 227-4384.