Youth Employment, Work Certificates and Work Permits
The Missouri Division of Labor Standards provides Missouri employers, parents, school officials, and youth information and training about workplace safety and health program management, child labor laws, and youth and employer rights and responsibilities. Missouri's Child Labor Law applies to youth under the age of 16. Youth under 14 years of age generally are not permitted to work at any job (other than in entertainment or casual work) at any time. Youth who are 14 or 15 generally are permitted to work, but their work (as well as the work of all children in the entertainment industry) is subject to several restrictions.
Work certificates are required for children 14 to 15 years of age before they start employment at any job (other than in the entertainment industry) during the school year. Work certificates are required regardless of where a child attends school (public school, private school, charter school, home school). Work certificates must be issued by either (1) the public school superintendent of the school district in which the child resides, (2) the chief executive officer of the charter school that the child attends, (3) the public or private school principal of the school that the child attends, (4) the designee of any of these school officials, or (5) if the child is home-schooled, a parent of the child. The issuing officer may decline to issue a work certificate if he or she is not satisfied that employment will serve the best interest of the child. The public superintendent of the school district in which the child resides may revoke a work certificate issued by a public or private school principal, if that is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.
Requests for work certificates must be presented by the child in person to one of the individuals identified above as having authority to issue a work. The following information will also be required at that time:
- A statement of intention to employ signed by the prospective employer setting forth the specific nature of the occupation in which he intends to employ the child and the exact hours of the day, the number of hours per day, and the days per week during which the child is to be employed.
- Written consent of the child’s parent, legal custodian, or guardian, or, if deemed necessary by the issuing officer, the child must be accompanied by his or her parent, legal custodian, or guardian. (For home-schooled children, a parent’s signature on the work certificate will fulfill this requirement.)
- Proof of the child’s age (birth certificate or other evidence).
Additionally, the following information may be required by the issuing officer:
- A certificate from the principal of the school that the child attends setting out the child’s grades.
- A certificate from a physician that has personally examined the child stating that the child is in good mental and physical health and is capable of performing labor without injury to his health and mental development.
Parents as Employers
Missouri Child Labor Laws apply even when a youth works under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian. The only exemption from the law is when the business is owned by the parent or legal guardian and the child remains under the direct control of the parent or legal guardian. If the parent or legal guardian is simply a supervisor, the law still applies.
Work Permits - Entertainment Industry
Work permits are required for youth under the age of 16 who work in the entertainment industry. A child under 16 may work in the entertainment industry if the director of the Missouri Division of Labor Standards issues the work permit. No permit will be issued without proof of age, a permission form from the parent or legal guardian, and a written statement from the prospective employer setting out the nature and expected duration of employment. The employer must keep the work permit and the statement as to the nature and duration of the employment on file. A work permit generally can be received within 48 hours. Permits may be revoked or not issued at the request of school officials if they feel work is unfavorable to a youth’s education. Read more about required breaks for youth in the entertainment industry.