What's the Minimum Legal Working Age in Virginia?

Working Has Many Benefits for Youth

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If you're a Virginian thinking about getting your first job, you need to find out what the minimum legal working age in your commonwealth is. Are you eligible to work? If so, plan how you're going to use your new income. Do you need to pay for school supplies, date nights, video games, clothing or college expenses?

Perhaps you're working because your family is struggling and you have bills to pay. Whatever the case, it's important to find out what you can expect in the workplace.

How Old Must You Be to Work in Virginia?

Both federal child labor laws and Virginia law are in accordance that the minimum age to work is 14 (with some exclusions). Child labor laws in each state sometimes vary regarding the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. When that's the case, federal law will apply if it's more stringent.

That said, the minimum age to work does not usually include door-to-door sales, working on a farm and the entertainment industry. Such employment categories have different minimum age requirements. Moreover, there are other child labor laws that restrict the hours juveniles can work.

Before youth begin their jobs, it is good practice to review the regulations surrounding child labor laws, particularly if they want to work in more official capacities as they get older.

Certificates Required

Virginia law requires child employment certificates for youth younger than 16.

You can find employment certificates online. You'll have to mail them back, and your employer will have to fill out paperwork as well. The commonwealth does not require age certificates.

When Can Teens Work?

Although Virginia teens ages 14-15 can work in offices, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and much more, the hours they work are limited.

Youth this age can't work more than three hours in a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day or 40 hours during a non-school week. 

Also, these teens must work hours that fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when working hours extend to 9 p.m.) Teens ages 16-17 may work up to four hours on school days, eight hours on non-school days and 28 hours during school weeks. Teens must have at least a 30-minute break after working for five hours in a row.

Older teens have more flexibility and do not face the same restrictions, but they cannot work in dangerous jobs. In addition, teens younger than 16 "are prohibited from several occupations, which are considered unhealthy, unwholesome or dangerous," according to the commonwealth. They must also refrain from working in hazardous jobs.

Virginia employers that violate such rules are subject to fines that range from $1,000 to as much as $10,000.

For more information on the minimum age to work in Virginia and how to obtain employment certificates, visit the Virginia State Labor Website.