Employees FAQ 12

What restrictions govern the employment of minors?

Municipal employers that hire minors must be aware of restrictions governing child labor. Restrictions govern the age a minor must be to work, the specific hours and number of hours minors can work, and the kind of work that minors can be asked to perform. With limited exceptions, before a minor under 16 years old is permitted to work, the employer must have a work permit on file. If a minor pays the work permit fee to the permit office, the employer must reimburse the minor for that expense no later than the first paycheck. Wis. Admin. Code DWD 270.05(1) and (3)(e).

Minors must be at least 14 years old to be employed in most jobs. However, minors who are at least 12 years old may work in agriculture, street trades jobs such as delivering newspapers, school lunch programs, and as football sideline officials, ball monitors, and golf caddies. Statutes and administrative regulations regulate the hours that minors can work and the total number of hours that minors can work in a given week. These hours vary depending on whether school is in session. To a large extent, with the exception of employment relating to school programs, minors may not be employed or permitted to work during hours that they are required to attend school unless the minor has completed high school. Wis. Stat. § 103.67(1), and Wis. Admin. Code DWD 270.11.

Certain types of employment are deemed too hazardous for minors. See Wis. Admin. Code DWD 270.12. For example, minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from operating power-driven machinery including lawn and garden equipment and sidewalk-type snow blowers. Minors 16 and 17 years of age may be employed as lifeguards and swimming instructors and aides if they have successfully completed a bona fide lifesaving course.

For further information about child labor, contact the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division. (rev. 7/20)