The start of the school year soon means a return to additional limits on the number of hours teens can work, even with remote or virtual learning.

“It’s important for students to have time for homework and school. Jobs should be scheduled around their school day.” Says Josie Bryan, Youth Employment specialist with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Work hours for teens are the same whether they are enrolled in a public or private school, homeschooled or engaged in remote learning. “These rules help keep teens safe and let parents and the school know what work the youth is doing,” Bryan explained. In 2019, 673 youth age 17 and under, reported injuries on the job in Washington.

Here’s what the start of the school year means for teens:

  • Teens between 14-15 years of age can work no more than 16 hours a week (breaks down to no more than three hours a day, six days a week, between 7 am and 7 pm)
  • A student age 16-17 can work no more than 20 hours a week (breaks down to no more than four hours a day, six days a week, between 7 am and 10 pm)
  • Teens who work in a restaurant, retail, or other service businesses after 8 pm must have adult supervision
  • Students enrolled in a Work Experience course may be excused to work during that class period
  • Youth are exempt from the teen work hour rules if:
    • Married
    • Parent (named on birth certificate)
    • Enrolled in Running Start (AP or Dual Credit courses do not apply)
    • Obtained their GED

Here’s what the start of the school year mean for employers:

  • Complete and sign a Parent/School Authorization form before giving it to the teen’s parents and school district for their signatures
    • Employers should contact their local school district for information about when school starts/finishes (students may not work during their neighborhood school hours)
    • Form must be renewed annually by Sept. 30
  • Must have a minor work permit (permit is available from the state Department of Revenue/Business License Service and renewed annually)
  • Obtain a minor work variance to extend the daily and total hours for these teens with an application to L&I
  • Employers should obtain proof if they employ a teen that is exempt from teen work rules

More information about work requirements for teens is available L&I’s teen workers website. You can also contact L&I about these issues by sending an email to the L&I Teen Workers mailbox at  See the Career Specialist in your high school for more information or call the VPS CTE Department at 360.313.1350.