By Kelly Youngblood
Let’s face it, kids are expensive. So when your 14- or 15-year-old comes to you and says he or she wants to get a job to earn their own money, who are we stand in their way?
In addition to the many conversations you’ll likely have regarding responsibility, time management, and good work ethic, there’s one more thing they’ll need before they can start a job — a work permit. Luckily, getting your teen a work permit is a pretty seamless process.
Work permits are required for minors in Illinois who are 14 or 15 years old. They are part of the Illinois Child Labor Law designed to protect the safety and education of students. There are hourly restrictions on how much a teen can work so as not to interfere with schoolwork.
There are exemptions: babysitting, yard work, newspaper delivery (does that happen anymore?), and even seasonal work such as detasseling corn does not require a permit.
But any other part-time work will require a permit.
Before getting a work permit, your student will need to get hired first. While that seems counterintuitive, a work permit can only be issued with a letter of intent to hire from the prospective employer.
Stacey Moore of Champaign Unit 4 Schools outlined the general process of getting a work permit here:
1. The student picks up a copy of the work permit application from the main office at their high school; or the application can be emailed to the student.
2. The student will then apply for a job.
3. If the employer asks the question “… can you obtain a work permit?” the student selects “yes.”
4. The student gets the job.
5. The new employer fills out the top portion of the work permit application.
6. Parents/guardians fill out the bottom portion of the work permit application.
7. The student turns in the completed documents along with their birth certificate to the main office at their high school. The work permit will then be processed. A list of possible required documentation can be found here.
Katherine Tellez, director of marketing and communications at Urbana School District 116, said the high school counselor’s office assists students with worker’s permits.
According to Jennifer Farm of the Champaign and Ford County Regional Office of Education, the ROE can issue work permits for students who are homeschooled or during summer months when districts are not in session for students.
Once obtained a work permit is good for one year or if there is a change in employer.
An important note: While your teen may be able to secure a job, he or she may earn less than their older co-workers. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Illinois is $12 per hour for those 18 years and older. However, anyone under 18 may be paid a minimum of $9.25 per hour.