What's the Minimum Legal Working Age in Virginia?

Working Has Many Benefits for Youth

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If you're a young Virginian thinking about getting your first job, you need to know the minimum legal working age in your commonwealth. After you determine if you're eligible to work figure out how you plan to use your new income. Do you need to pay for school supplies, date night, video games, clothing or college tuition? Or, perhaps you're working because your family needs help paying for household expenses.

Whatever the situation, it's important to know the rules governing the workplace.

Age and Other Requirements

Child labor laws vary by state regarding the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. In the state of Virginia, both federal child labor laws and state law are in accordance that the minimum age to work is 14. If there are any conflicts between state and federal law, federal law will apply if it's more stringent.

However, the minimum age to work does not usually include door-to-door sales (e.g., the Girl Scout cookie drive), working on a farm and the entertainment industry. These employment categories have different minimum age requirements. Additionally, there are child labor laws that restrict the number of hours juveniles are allowed to work.

Before teens begin their jobs, it's a good idea to review the regulations surrounding the child labor laws.

Required Certificates

Virginia law requires child employment certificates for those under the age of 16.

You can find employment certificates online by visiting this website. You'll have to mail the certificates back, and your employer has to fill out paperwork as well. The Commonwealth does not require age certificates.

Work Restrictions

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

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

Work must also be done during the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when work hours extend to 9 p.m.). Virginians ages 16-17 may work up to four hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day and 28 hours during school weeks. Teens must have at least a 30-minute break after working for five hours straight.

Older teens, while they enjoy more flexibility and don't face the same restrictions, are not allowed to 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 the labor laws are subject to fines ranging 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.