The Illinois Department of Labor wants to remind student-workers that they need a work permit before starting a new job. In Illinois if you’re under 16 years old and looking for a job, you also need to get an employment certificate. Minors who are 14 or 15 may work in Illinois, but they must first obtain an employment certificate.
IDOL Assistant Director Jason Keller says Illinois’ child labor law is designed to protect the physical safety of children on the job,as well as to make their education a priority: “[The requirement] is there to protect minors as they venture out into the workforce to make sure that they still have adequate time to do their homework and get their education, but at the same time, are safe on the job site and so that they are not necessarily getting taken advantage of.”
Fourteen-and 15-year-olds seeking employment need to start by getting a letter of intent to hire from their prospective employer. The letter should describe the type of work and the hours to be worked. The young person and a parent or guardian must present the letter and the required support documents to their school or school district office-in person or electronically-to request an employment certificate. The issuing school administrator will review criteria and any safety issues to determine whether to issue the work permit.
Keller says IDOL has filed an emergency rule so you don’t have to present the paperwork in person at a school due to COVID-19 concerns: “We did an emergency rule that would allow for meetings to occur via video or teleconferencing to make it easier to get a permit, so you don’t have to go into a school or a school district building to meet with the issuing officer.”
Employers who employ teens under 16 without having an employment certificate on the premises are subject to fines by IDOL. Children 14 and 15 years of age may work up to three hours per school day and up to 24 hours per week when school is in session. The combined hours of school and work cannot exceed eight hours per day. When school is not in session –summer vacations, holidays and weekends –the restrictions are no more than eight hours per day, no more than six days per week and no more than 48 hours per week. These young people can work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. except between June 1 and Labor Day when the evening hours can be extended to 9 p.m. Some exceptions to the Illinois Child Labor Law do exist. The law does not apply to the sale and delivery of magazines and newspaper soutside the hours that school is in attendance. Likewise, jobs in private homes such as baby-sitting or yard work are exceptions and do not require an employment certificate.
The law also seeks to keep younger workers safe. It prohibits 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds from working in businesses where alcohol is served, on construction jobs, at service stations and other places that might include dangerous work or machinery. The Illinois Department of Labor offers a Child Labor Hotline -800-645-5784 – to answer questions.