RCW 49.12
WAC 296-125

The minimum age for employment in Washington State is fourteen years old.

  • A business which employs one or more minors must get a work permit for minors from the state. The employer must also maintain records required by the state WAC 296-125-0275. http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/TeenWorkers/default.asp
  • Parents must sign a parent/school authorization form. Get this form from the employer. Note: for homeschool students it is not necessary to get the authorization from the local school district. http://www.lni.wa.gov/forms/pdf/700002af.pdf

RCW 49.12.121 Wages and working conditions of minors — Special rules — Work permits.

(1) The department may at any time inquire into wages, hours, and conditions of labor of minors employed in any trade, business, or occupation in the state of Washington and may adopt special rules for the protection of the safety, health, and welfare of minor employees. However, the rules may not limit the hours per day or per week, or other specified work period, that may be worked by minors who are emancipated by court order.

(2) The department shall issue work permits to employers for the employment of minors, after being assured the proposed employment of a minor meets the standards for the health, safety, and welfare of minors as set forth in the rules adopted by the department. No minor person shall be employed in any occupation, trade, or industry subject to chapter 16, Laws of 1973 2nd ex. sess., unless a work permit has been properly issued, with the consent of the parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of the minor and with the approval of the school which such minor may then be attending. However, the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person, or the approval of the school which the minor may then be attending, is unnecessary if the minor is emancipated by court order.

(3) The minimum wage for minors shall be as prescribed in RCW 49.46.020.

RCW 49.12.123 Work permit for minor required.

In implementing state policy to assure the attendance of children in the public schools it shall be required of any person, firm or corporation employing any minor under the age of eighteen years to obtain a work permit as set forth in RCW 49.12.121 and keep such permit on file during the employment of such minor, and upon termination of such employment of such minor to return such permit to the department of labor and industries.

WAC 296-125-010 Applicability.

This chapter applies to every person that employs one or more minors, or who permits, allows, or suffers one or more minors to work at a site or workplace, on premises, or under work conditions controlled by that employer, except for those employers statutorily exempted, as follows: This chapter does not apply to newspaper vendors or carriers; to domestic or casual labor in or about private residences; to parents or stepparents who employ their own children for house-to-house sales; to agricultural labor as defined by RCW 50.04.150; or, to employers expressly exempted by federal statute from the coverage of state law.

WAC 296-125-018 Minimum age for employment.

(1) Pursuant to RCW 26.28.060, a written order issued by a judge of a superior court of the county in which a minor lives is a prerequisite to the hiring, not otherwise prohibited by federal law, of any minor under the age of fourteen for any labor in or in connection with any store, shop, factory, mine, or inside employment other than inside employment connected with farm or housework.
(2) No employer shall employ a minor under the age of sixteen in house-to-house sales, unless the department has granted a variance to an employer for that specific purpose.

The number of hours a minor may work is outlined in WAC 269-125-027.

Hours of work–Nonagriculture

14-year-olds and 15-year-olds

16-year-olds and 17-year-olds

School Nonschool School Nonschool
Hours a day 3* 8 4** 8
(weekdays) (weekdays)
8 8
(Fri.-Sun.) (Fri.-Sun.)
Hours a week 16 40 20/28*** 48
Days a week 6 days 6 days 6 days 6 days
Start 7 a.m. 7 a.m. 7 a.m. 5 a.m.
Quit 7 p.m. 9 p.m. 10 p.m.
(weekdays) (Sun.-Thurs.)
(Fri. & Sat.)

*14-year-olds and 15-year-olds can work up to 3 hours on a school day preceding a school day. All other days, 8 hours per day.

**16-year-olds and 17-year-olds can work up to 4 hours on a school day preceding a school day. All other days, 8 hours per day.

***Up to 28 hours available through special variances.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.12.121. 99-02-041, § 296-125-0700, filed 12/31/98, effective 1/31/99.]

Employers/school may apply for variances to these hours see WAC 392-125-0600