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California Rules for Employing Minors

Filed under Managing the Workplace. Fact checked on May 25, 2012.

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Employers in California must conform with these state rules relating to the employment of minors.

Employment certificates are generally required before employing a minor under 18. Certificates are issued by the superintendent of any school district in which the minor resides, by an authorized pupil personnel specialist or certified work experience education coordinator, or by other persons designated to act in the absence of a superintendent.

Employment certificate requirements do not apply to a minor employed to deliver newspapers to consumers.

Blanket permits may be secured by employers under certain conditions.

The principal of a public or private school, subject to certain requirements and conditions, is authorized to issue or designate another administrator in the school to issue, work permits for pupils who attend the school. A person is not permitted to issue a work permit for his or her own child. In addition, hour limitations that apply to work permits are to be based on the school calendar of the school the pupil attends.

In any case, if the employment is shown to impair the health or schoolwork of the minor, the authority issuing a work permit may revoke it.

Employment Restrictions for Minors Under Age 18

In California, a permit to work may be issued to a minor 14 to 17 to work outside of school hours for a period of time not to exceed three hours in any day in which the minor is required by law to attend school if the minor is 14 or 15, or four hours if the minor is 16 or 17, provided that the minor has completed the equivalent of the seventh grade of a public school course.

In addition, a permit to work may be issued, at the school district's discretion, to a 13-year-old minor if the minor has completed grade six, has been identified by the school district as a potential drop-out and is participating in an employment program sponsored by a school district, provided the program fosters the development of an appreciation by the pupil of the importance of education in preparing for future education and employment. The permit must limit the period a 13-year-old minor may work to two hours in any given day, up to a maximum of four hours each week.

A work permit may also be issued to a minor age 16 or older to work outside of school hours for a period of time not to exceed eight hours in any day in which the minor is required by law to attend school, and which is immediately prior to a nonschool day.

Requirements for Employing Minors in the Entertainment Industry

An employer in the entertainment industry who wishes to employ minors in work or an activity that is not hazardous or detrimental to the health, safety, morals or education of minors, must make an application to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for a permit to employ minors in the work or activity.

Under California law, 15 percent of the earnings of minors who provide artistic or creative services must be set aside in a Coogan Trust Account. If a minor's parents do not establish a Coogan Trust Account for the minor, employers are required to deposit the minor's earnings in a default trust fund set up within the Actors Fund of America. In addition, this law voids the written consent to employ a minor under contract after ten business days unless a statement providing evidence of the establishment of the required trust account is attached. The law also limits valid written consents to a six-month period.

Effective January 1, 2012, the state labor commissioner may issue temporary work permits for the employment of minors under the age of 16 in the entertainment industry under specified conditions.

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