Every employer must obtain a work permit for each minor they employ before they allow the minor to do any work. No permit is required for agriculture, domestic service outside of school hours, nor for volunteer work for nonprofit organizations where no employer/employee relationship exists. Also, no work permit is required for work performed for court-ordered restitution or court-ordered community service.
If, for any reason, a permit officer finds it necessary to stop serving as a permit officer, please inform our Madison office so a replacement can be appointed. We request that this handbook be left with the permit supplies for the new officer.
Please contact the Madison office by telephone with any questions at 608.266.6860.
The purpose of the employment of minors legislation is to protect the life, health, safety, and welfare of minors. The goal of modern employment of minors administration is to combine prevention with regulation, rather than to award damages or penalties after injury or violation. Even so, damages and penalties remain necessary tools in effective administration. In protecting the welfare of minors, we aid in their development, which in turn supports society as a whole. Through the regulation of employment of minors, with emphasis on preventive rather than punitive action, we go far in meeting this goal.
Authorities agree that effective employment of minors enforcement requires a good permit system. Permits were first used in Wisconsin only to assist economically-disadvantaged families when children needed to contribute to family income. They permitted children to work when they were younger than the law otherwise allowed.
The first effective permit legislation was passed in 1903, when documentary proof of age was required. Factory inspectors could require such proof for any child whose employment they might question.
In 1917 the permit-granting authority was centralized in the Industrial Commission. This facilitated the establishment of more uniform standards in the granting of permits, and made permit records more accurate. The Commission was given the power to appoint and remove permit officers. Many officers are school officials, but municipal and court officials are also included. As of April 2014, there are 2,115 permit officers assisting the department in the issuance of permits.
The permit system protects both minors and employers in Wisconsin. Children are protected from working in occupations for which they are too young or physically unfit; employers are protected against unwitting violation of the law, as the permit establishes legal proof of age.
It is fortunate that the administration of the employment of minors law is charged to a single administrative department, whose interpretations of the law have uniform, statewide effect. Centralized administration of these laws is important to both employers and minors.
The permit guards against poor working conditions and employment practices; this protects competent standards.
It ensures minors due process of the law. It prevents exploitation of children, and ensures that the employment is legal.
A definite agreement between the minor and employer is established. The advantage to the employer is that legal employment is ensured, and the employer has clear direction regarding the hours a minor may work, limitations in the types of work that can be performed, and the other responsibilities he/she assumes when hiring a minor.
Employers and parents are both responsible for ensuring that minors under 18 years of age are employed in conformity with the law. Penalties may be imposed for each violation, ranging from $25.00 to $1,000.00 per day for the employer, and from $10.00 to $250.00 for each day for the parent. The department may enforce the specified penalties through civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction, or it may pursue criminal penalties.
The permit helps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the minor. The permit makes the minor aware of citizenship and responsibility to the employer. It also informs the employer about its responsibility to the employee.
When appointing permit officers to assist in the issuance of permits throughout the State, the Department of Workforce Development is not limited to any particular class of persons. In practice, the department has always tried to secure people already connected in some capacity with public service.
It is to the great credit of these public-spirited citizens - mostly dedicated by vocation - that many of them have served from five to fifteen years with great loyalty and fidelity to the trust and confidence placed in them by the department. Permit officers are members of the department's organization, and as such, the department gives them every possible assistance in their duties.
Their only monetary compensation for this work is a portion of the permit fee (of the $10.00 collected for each permit, they retain $2.50). The fee system was inaugurated in 1943. It should be noted that, in most cases, the officer turns the fee over to its employer, especially when the officer is an employee of a school system or some other governmental unit.
In conjunction with this volunteer system, our labor standards investigators act as liaison officers or consultants. Sometimes this entails visits to the permit offices to train officers or audit the office's records. Permit fees are forwarded to our Madison office on a monthly basis. This helps to ensure that statewide administration of the employment of minors and street trades laws are reasonably uniform in scope, within the constraints of our relatively limited budget.
The age of a child bears on what type of work he or she may lawfully perform. Experience has shown that it is not safe to employ minors based upon their own representations of their age, or even upon the representations of their parents.
Most agree with the proposition that this system is somewhat of a burden on employers, but worldwide experience has shown that this burden is necessary to ensure child safety. Interestingly, nearly all states have similar permit requirements.
Primary compensation is normally paid by the insurance company but the extra compensation cannot be insured against, and is required to be paid directly to the Worker's Compensation Division.
"Street trade" means "the selling, offering for sale, soliciting for, collecting for, displaying or distributing any articles, goods, merchandise, commercial service, posters, circular, newspapers or magazines, or the blacking of boots, on any street or other public place or from house to house."
To issue a street permit, the permit officer follows the exact same process for issuing a work permit (see How to Issue an Employment of Minors Permit). You'll simply select "Issue Street Trade Permit" from the online work permit system. Additionally you'll need to provide the minor with an ID card (LS-24, see below) that the minor must carry on his/her person when engaged in street trades.
These cards can be requested from our Department. To request, please email us.
To limit liability, occasionally employers wish to have conclusive evidence of an adult's age before employing him or her. Age certificates provide that proof. They are not work permits but are conclusive evidence of the age of any adult in any proceeding under any of the labor laws and Worker's Compensation Act of Wisconsin as to any act or thing occurring subsequent to the date of issuance.
Age certificates are for persons between the ages of 16 and 21. Although age certificates are not work permits, work permit officers are authorized to issue them.
The process for issuing an age certificate is the same as issuing a work permit (see How to Issue an Employment of Minors Permit). You'll simply select "Issue an Age Certificate" from the online work permit system. The applicant should be instructed to present the certificate of age to their employer and request its return on termination of employment so that they may present it to their next employer.
Permit officers MAY NOT issue permits if the minor is just a few weeks short of the legal age to do the work in question. The permit cannot be issued until the minor reaches that age.
The issuing officer may also refuse to issue a permit to a minor who seems physically unable to do the work, or when the best interest of the minor would be served by such refusal.
The permit officer may ask an employer to return a permit which was found to be issued in error. When it is felt that the physical or moral welfare of the minor will be served by revocation of the permit, the permit officer should first ask the employer for the permit's return, then ask the parent to terminate the minor's employment. If necessary, ask our Madison office to investigate so the department can revoke the permit.
NOTE: You may want to remind employers that you are looking out for their best interest when you refuse to issue a permit.
The department may revoke any permit whenever the permit has been improperly or illegally issued, or when the physical or moral welfare, or the best interests of the minor would be served by revocation. The department shall revoke or suspend a employment of minors permit when ordered to do so by a Judge. This occurs most often in cases of truancy.
The department may revoke any permit if requested in writing by the school principal, the minor's parent or guardian who has legal custody, or the court-ordered foster parent while the minor is under their care and supervision. The requesting party must demonstrate some attempt has taken place to resolve the work problem between the minor, school, parent or guardian, and employer before the request for revocation is made to the department. If the issue involves truancy or grades, a copy of school records is helpful.
The permit officers in local offices - including school districts - do NOT have the authority to revoke work permits.
The department may suspend any permit whenever the permit has been improperly or illegally issued, or the physical or moral welfare, or the best interests of the minor would be served by the suspension.
The requirements for obtaining a suspension are the same as for obtaining a revocation. A suspension is a temporary hold on the permit. For example, a high school principal can ask that a permit be suspended for the remainder of a school year, April-May for example, because of poor grades since the child started the job.
This site provides work permit offices with a secure, convenient method to pay the Department of Workforce Development the state's share of the work permit fees collected by permit offices. The service is free and available 24 hours a day seven days a week.
In order to use this payment method you will need the following information:
If you have questions not addressed in the instructions above, please call (608) 267-4410 or (608) 266-6860.
Children can work as young as age 12 in the following jobs:
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. For further information, see The Wisconsin Employment of Minors Guide (formerly named DWD-ERD-4758)
|Maximum Hours of Work for 14 & 15 year old minors||After Labor Day through May 31||June 1 through Labor Day|
|-- Non-School Days||8 hours||8 hours|
|-- School Days||3 hours||3 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 14 years of age are allowed to work in certain occupations (e.g., street trades, agriculture, and work in school lunch programs. See the Wisconsin Employment of Minors Guide (formerly named ERD-4758-P), for more detail). These minors are subject to the same hourly and time of day restrictions as minors who are 14 or 15 years of age.
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 & 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, 740 Regent Street, Suite 102, Madison, WI 53715.
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