Youth Employment

Laws and Regulations

In Virginia, a minor may generally work once they have reached the age of fourteen. Like most states, Virginia has its own set of laws and regulations concerning what kind of work a minor may perform and the hours a minor may work. For example, § 40.1-100 Code of Virginia prohibits minors under 18 from working in certain hazardous occupations and minors under 16 from working in certain prohibited occupations. For more information about Virginia’s child labor laws and regulations, please consult the Youth Employment Law FAQ or call the Department’s Child Labor unit at (804) 371-3104 ext. 242.

Along with Virginia law, the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division enforces federal child labor laws. Note that where both federal and state laws exist concerning an aspect of child labor, the most stringent of the two laws applies.

Effective June 30, 2024, the existing Electronic Employer Certificate System will experience downtime to prepare for the launch of the new system. Employers are recommended to download all necessary documents from the existing system. Read more.

Effective July 1, 2024, penalties for child labor violations will increase in accordance with legislation passed during the 2024 General Assembly session. Read more.

Employment Certificates

All 14 and 15 year old workers in Virginia are required to obtain an Employment Certificate (Work Permit) prior to performing any work. The Employment Certificate application process can be completed electronically using the Virginia Electronic Employment Certificate System. Click the button below to access the Virginia Electronic Employment Certificate System.

 

The electronic system is divided into three sections: Youth Registration, Employer Registration, and Parent/Guardian/Custodian Registration. Upon completion of all three sections, the system will submit the application to the Department for review by a Compliance Officer, generally within 24 hours of submission. Approved electronic Employment Certificates will be issued to the employer electronically and will only become valid once signed by the youth worker. For further information on how to use the electronic system, please click here for the VAeECS Instruction Sheet.

Manual Youth Employment Certificate Application forms may also be submitted to the Department as an alternative to using the electronic system.

The manual application requires two forms:

Both forms must be submitted together. Approved manual Employment Certificates will be issued to the employer via mail and will only become valid once signed by the youth worker.

Note that the Department may revoke an issued Employment Certificate at any time should it appear that reasonable precautions for the safety of the child have not been observed. Employers of youth workers are subject to unannounced inspections by the Department to ensure compliance with Virginia child labor laws. During an inspection, an employer must be able to provide copies of time records, proof of age documents, and signed Employment Certificates for all youth workers. Failure to maintain and provide these documents will result in the Department issuing a civil monetary penalty against the employer.

For any questions about the Employment Certificate process or difficulties with the VA Electronic Employment Certificate System, please call the Child Labor unit at (804) 371-3104 ext. 242.

Youth Electronic Employment Certificate Instructions Overview

Youth Employment Certificates are issued through Virginia’s New Employment Certificate application site. Please read the notices below PRIOR to beginning the registration process.

Youth MUST BE age 14 or age 15 to apply for an employment certificate.

Youth DO NOT begin the registration process for an employment certificate until you have a firm offer of employment.

You WILL NOT be issued an employment certificate until you have an employer.

You MUST NOT begin to work until you have been issued an employment certificate by the Department of Labor and Industry.

Youth, Employer, and Parent, Guardian or Custodian, it is IMPORTANT to review the FAQs PRIOR TO REGISTERING for important legal requirements concerning the employment of youth in the Commonwealth.

Theatrical Permits

In Virginia, the management of any theater or other public place where a performance, concert, commercial presentation or entertainment is to take place, must secure a Theatrical Permit from the Department of Labor and Industry allowing minors under the age of 16 to participate. The Department of Labor and Industry must be satisfied that the conditions are “not detrimental to the health or morals of the child and that the child’s education will not be neglected or hampered by his or her participation in such drama, play, performance, concert, or entertainment.” § 40.1-102 Code of Virginia. No such Permit is required for any nonprofit dance, or music recital or noncommercial television or radio broadcast. Non-profit schools of performing arts are not required to obtain Theatrical Permits for performances related to classes.

The Theatrical Permit Application for each minor child involved in a production must be notarized and filed at least five days before the production date. The original application must be submitted by mail to:

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
Attention: Child Labor Division
North Run Business Park
1570 Parham Road
Richmond, VA 23228

The Child Labor Compliance Officers will review each application and investigate each performance situation in which the minor child will participate.

For further information on Theatrical Permits, please call the Child Labor unit at (804) 371-3104 ext. 241.

FAQs

At what age can a minor child work?

Generally, 14 years of age.

What hours can a 14 or 15 year-old work?
  • May not work more than 3 hours a day on a school day.
  • May not work more than 18 hours a week in a school week.
  • May not work more than 8 hours a day on a non-school day.
  • May not work more than 40 hours a week in a non-school week.
  • May not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except between June 1st and Labor Day, they may work as late as 9 pm.
  • May not work during school hours unless enrolled in a school work-training program.
  • Must be given a 30-minute rest or meal period after 5 consecutive hours of work.
Are minors prohibited from working in certain jobs?

Yes. Minors under 16 are not allowed to work in prohibited occupations, which are considered unhealthy or dangerous, on in certain particularly hazardous jobs. Minors aged 16 and 17 are barred from working in certain particularly hazardous jobs. Please click here and here to review the laws and regulations regarding prohibited and hazardous occupations.

Are children under the age of 18 permitted to work in cosmetology salons or barbershops?

Yes. Children under the age of 18 are permitted to perform job duties in cosmetology salons or barbershops where hazardous chemicals are not used, such as cashiering, stocking merchandise, or clerical work. See Virginia Regulation 16VAC15-30-230.

Are children under the age of 18 permitted to perform the services of cosmetologists or barbers?

No. Children under the age of 18 shall not be employed, permitted, or suffered to work in any capacity in preparing any composition in which dangerous or poisonous chemicals are used. It is recognized that cosmetologists and barbers often utilize chemicals which are deemed hazardous, and children under the age of 18 are prohibited from employment in these occupations. See Virginia Code § 40.1-100.

NOTE: This informational response is being provided by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry based on its subject matter jurisdiction. Certain chemicals may also be regulated by other state or federal entities, including the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What is the written apprenticeship agreement?

The agreement shall provide for not less than 2,000 hours of reasonably continuous employment for such person, for his participation in an approved schedule of work experience through employment, and for the amount of related instruction required in the occupation. See Virginia Code § 2.2-2043 et seq.

For more information regarding apprenticeships, please visit: www.virginiaworks.gov

Which establishments are eligible to employ youth apprentices under the cosmetology and barbering exception?

A barbershop or cosmetology salon must be licensed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s Board for Barbers and Cosmetology in order to employ youth apprentices. See Virginia Code § 40.1-100.

For more information regarding the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology and its regulations, please contact the Board Office at (804) 367-8590 or visit their website, https://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Boards/Barber.

What are the primary requirements for minors who work?

Minors 14 and 15 must obtain an Employment Certificate prior to their first day of employment. Minors 14 and 15 also have limited hours they can work and cannot work in certain prohibited or hazardous jobs. Minors 16 and 17 cannot work in certain particularly hazardous jobs.

What are the requirements for minors under the age of 18 to participate in volunteer fire fighting?

The general rule is that teenagers under the age of eighteen years of age may not work in an occupation that has been declared hazardous by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. The Commissioner of Labor and Industry has declared fire fighting to be a hazardous occupation. In addition to the occupations that have been declared hazardous, child labor laws specifically prohibit teenagers under the age of eighteen from many other activities that may be involved in fire fighting. However, under Virginia Code § 40.1-79.1, minors who have attained the age of sixteen may participate fully in all activities of a volunteer fire company, if the minor has obtained Level One firefighter certification, the minor has his or her parent or guardian’s permission and there is a town, city or county ordinance in place (in the jurisdiction of residence of the minor) permitting persons sixteen years of age and older to participate under these circumstances. For additional information, please contact the Department’s Child Labor Unit at 804-371-3104 ext. 242.

Can civil monetary penalties be assessed against an employer?

An employer may be cited a civil monetary penalty for each minor who is employed in violation of the Code of Virginia and/or regulations.

Are there any exceptions for children under the age of 18 directly related to cosmetology or barbering services?

Yes. Children aged 16 or older may serve in a barbershop or cosmetology salon if they are a registered apprentice. See Virginia Code § 40.1-100.

What is an “apprentice” under the cosmetology and barbering exception?

An “apprentice” is a person, at least 16 years of age, who is covered by a written agreement with an employer and approved by the Director of Workforce Development and Advancement. See Virginia Code § 2.2-2043 et seq.

Is there an exception for children under the age of 18 enrolled in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for cosmetology or barbering?

No. The exception only applies to registered apprentices. There is no exception for student-learners or CTE enrollees. See Virginia Code § 40.1-100.

Contact Us

Address

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
Attention: Child Labor Division
North Run Business Park
1570 Parham Road
Richmond, VA 23228

Phone Number

Office: (804) 371-3104 ext. 242

Email Address

General Questions:
laborlaw@doli.virginia.gov


You may pay for your inspection certificate invoice online. Accepted methods of payment include:

  • Check
  • Credit Card
  • Electronic Check (E-Check)
  • Electronic Transfer (EDI)
  • Money Order
  • Cash IS NOT accepted

If you wish to pay by credit card or e-check, you will need certain information from your invoice, including invoice number and the Virginia number (VA number) of one of the objects. The VA number can be found on the table that appears on the invoice. You will only need to provide one VA number, even if your invoice lists several object numbers.

For all other methods of payment, please follow the instructions on the invoice and the remittance form you received.

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