Work Permits

In Illinois a person may not work at most types of jobs before the age of 16.  Persons under that age who wish to get a job must obtain a work permit in order to do so legally.  The work permit is awarded to those underage people who have demonstrated that they are entering the work force willingly, will be working in an acceptable work environment for younger people (eg: not in a dangerous job, or unacceptably long hours), and will not be interfering with their education by doing so.

What kind of job does not require a work permit?

Some jobs are assumed to be acceptable for young children. These include delivering papers, golf caddying, doing chores at someone's home, or working at an agricultural task.

Who is eligible to obtain a work permit?

Anyone who is at least 14 years old may obtain a work permit for most other types of jobs.

What kind of job is acceptable?

The rules describing the jobs that a minor may legally perform are long and complex and cannot be thoroughly explored in this paper. But in general, any potentially hazardous jobs like carpentry work, or roofing, or quarry mining, are not allowed.  In addition the number of hours that a minor may work is severely limited during school days and also limited for any particular week.  The issuing officer will have the guidelines, and should take the time to make a good determination about your situation.  The employer also has the responsibility of knowing these rules and following them exactly.

Certain jobs require special supervision by the parents. If the child is going to be employed in the entertainment field then a parent must be present at all performances and there is a limit to the number of performances that may be required of the child, daily or weekly.

Who may issue the work permit?

The law specifies that the District or Regional Superintendent of Public Schools may issue the work permit or anyone that (s)he has authorized.  In general, any public high school or larger registered private high school has probably been given such authorization by the Superintendent, so the homeschooler's best bet would be to go to the public high school which serves that homeschooler's neighborhood or a nearby private high school.  Failing either of those two options, the Superintendent can issue it directly.

What does the homeschooler need to do to get a work permit?

You will need to contact the schools suggested above and find one willing to issue the permit.  The application must be submitted to the issuing officer in person, by the minor accompanied by his/her parent or guardian.  The following documents must also be submitted:

  1. A statement from the minor's prospective employer describing the job and exact hours the minor will be working.
  2. Evidence of the minor's exact age (e.g. birth certificate, baptismal certificate)
  3. A statement on the Department of Labor's form from the principal of the minor's school, stating the minor's name, age, social security number, grade last completed, and names of his parents.  This statement should only be required if the employment is to be during the school term.
  4. A statement of physical fitness signed by a physician certifying that the minor is fit to perform the job in question.