Employing Minors

Everyone has to start somewhere. For many people, that means getting a job before becoming a legal adult.  Therefore, if employees are out there getting jobs before turning 18, it means that employers must be hiring employees who are 17 or younger.  If you are an employer hiring a minor, what do you need to know?

Generally, in the State of Michigan, the youngest allowable age for an employee is 14 years old, with restrictions.  Depending on the employee’s age, the type of work, and other factors, the restrictions on a minor employee’s working hours and actual work can vary.  Employers should be mindful of the restrictions pertaining to minor employees, which are generally as follows:

14 – 15 year old restrictions:

  • Cannot work between the hours of 9 pm to 7 am.
  • Cannot work more than 18 hours during a school week.
  • Cannot work more than 3 hours per day on school days.
  • Cannot perform manufacturing or hazardous jobs.
  • May not work in establishments where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises.

16 – 17 year old restrictions:

  • Cannot work between the hours of 10:30 pm to 6 am, unless it is a Friday or Saturday.  However, during a school vacation period, or during hours where the minor is not regularly enrolled in school, then the employee may work as late as 11:30 pm.
  • Cannot perform hazardous jobs.
  • Are allowed to work in establishments where alcohol sales are less than 50% of total sales, but cannot sell, serve, or furnish alcoholic beverages.
  • If a minor is a student and school is in session, they cannot work more than 24 hours in one week.

Restrictions for ages 14 – 17:

  • Minors may not work without supervision from someone who is at least 18 years old.
  • Cannot work more than 6 days in one week.
  • Combined hours of school and work cannot exceed 48 hours in a work week.
  • If the minor is a student, they cannot work during regular school hours.
  • Cannot work more than 10 hours in one day, with a weekly average of 8 hours per day.
  • May not work more than 5 hours continuously without at least a 30-minute break.


Finally, minors must obtain a completed work permit from their school in order to begin work under Michigan state law. There are different color-coded work permits for different age groups. There are three sections of the work permit that must be filled out. Section one needs to be completed by the minor and their parent or guardian, section two must be completed by the employer, and section three must be completed by the minor’s school issuing officer upon application. Generally, work permits do not apply for employees ages 16 – 17 who have a G.E.D., have graduated from high school, or have been emancipated and can provide proof to the employer that they are emancipated.

There are special circumstances that create exceptions to some of these rules.  For example, in certain jobs, such as golf caddies and sport referees, it is legal to hire someone under the age of 14.  There are also exceptions for minors working for their family businesses or working in certain agricultural jobs.

Determining whether you can legally employ a minor, especially when there are many jobs minors are prohibited from doing, can be tricky. For more information about employing a minor, please contact UAP.