YW Rules, Rights, & Regulations


Rules & Regulations for Teen Workers

There are many rules and regulations in place in Washington State to help protect workers of all ages. These regulations will differ depending on the worker's age and whether the nature of the work is agricultural or non-agricultural.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) website has a wealth of information on the rules, rights and regulations regarding young workers. See Teen Workers.

If you are a teen worker with a concern or an issue:

First talk to your supervisor about the problem. It is a good idea to keep a written record of the following details:

  • what you discussed,
  • ​who you talked to, and
  • ​the date you talked about it.

​In preparation for talking to your supervisor it may be helpful to learn what your rights are as a teen worker. This resource page is a great place to start. If you still have questions, contact Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) at :

Also talk to your parent, guardian or teacher and let them know about the situation at work. They may be able to give you some advice on how to best handle the situation.

Click below for information on specific workplace issues:



Parent/School Authorization Forms

In Washington State, the responsibility for getting a minor work permit falls to the employer, but in order for a student to work during the school year, a Parent/School Authorization form must first be signed by the parent or guardian, and an authorized teacher at your school. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the form. 

The employer needs to include the following information on the form: 

  • The location of the workplace 
  • A description of the students job duties 
  • The earliest and latest hours they will be working 
  • The total number of hours they will work per week 

Because these forms expire on September 30th of each year, the employer will need to provide a new form that needs authorized signatures each year. 

There is a Parent Authorization Summer Work form for teen work during the summer holiday.

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Workplace Rights for Teen Workers

For comprehensive information about work hours, breaks, wages, or prohibited duties for young workers in Washington State, go to the Labor & Industries' Teen Workers site.

For confidential advice or to report a problem, contact the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) Employment Standards Division at 1-800-423-7233. You can also send an e-mail to teensafety@lni.wa.gov.


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Prohibited Jobs

Labor laws are in place to protect teenagers from doing dangerous work. Because of the possible hazards, some jobs in Washington State are restricted based on age.

A special note about restricted jobs and educational programs:

*Student-Learner Exemptions may apply and allow a teen to carry out some of these hazardous duties under certain conditions.  In these cases, they must be a student that is participating in an approved vocational education program, diversified career experience program or work experience program through their school district or when involved in a registered apprenticeship program. More detailed information exemptions is available on the L&I Prohibited Duties site.

A few examples of prohibited jobs or tasks for teens include:

  • Driving a vehicle or forklift
  • Operating or cleaning meat slicers
  • Using power-driven woodworking equipment such as saws or drills
  • Working more than 10 feet above ground or floor level
  • Selling candy, flowers, etc. to passing motorists on public roads
  • Roofing

For more detailed information on prohibited or restricted jobs in Washington, click here.

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Work Hours

There are rules that limit the number of hours teens can work. These limits include:

  • The number of hours they can work in a day 
  • How early or late they can work
  • The total number of hours they can work in a week

The number of hours teens can work varies, based on the time of year (non-school time is considered to be from June 1 through Labor Day), their age, and whether or not they are working in agriculture.

Very detailed information about the hours a teen is allowed to work, and other variations to these rules can be found at:
Hours of Work Rules for Teens.

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Meal and Rest Breaks

Teen workers (under age 18) are entitled to an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes if they work more than 5 hours in a day. They also are entitled to at least a 10-minute paid rest break for each 4 hours worked. They must be allowed a rest period no later than the end of the thrid hour of the shift. 

Fourteen- and 15-year-old workers may not work more than 4 hours without a 30-minute uninterrupted meal period. This is separate from--and in addition to--rest breaks. They must also receive a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for every 2 hours worked. They must have a rest period after 2 hours for every 4 hours of work. 



The amount a teen worker is paid depends on the worker’s age and the type of work he or she is doing. The minimum wage in Washington State increases on January 1 each year. An employer may pay a 14- or 15-year-old employee less than the minimum wage, but cannot pay less than 85% of the minimum wage. If a teen receives tips, under state law, the tips cannot be counted towards the minimum wage. If teens work over 40 hours a week they are entitled to overtime pay equal to one and a half times (1.5x) their regular rate of pay.

For more information on the current minimum wage in Washington State or overtime rules, click: Wages and Overtime.  

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Special Variances

In some cases, a 16-or 17-year-old student may have “good cause” for needing to work more hours per week than is normally allowed (20 hrs during the school week). If so, it is up to the employer to apply for a variance

Special Variance: L&I has delegated the responsibility to grant permission for a minor to work up to 8 extra hours during the school week to the parents and the school. This special variance does not require approval from L&I. 

Regular Variance: To work even more hours than that in a week (>28 hrs), the employer must pursue a regular variance with L&I.  

For more detailed information on the variance process in Washington State and to access forms, go to L&I Variances.

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Unsafe Working Conditions

For advice or to report a safety problem at work, contact Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) at :

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Injuries and  Workers' Compensation

If you get hurt on the job, inform your supervisor as soon as possible. Your supervisor should provide you with first aid, should you need it, and with an accident report form (also called an injury claim form) that you will need to fill out and return to your supervisor. Make sure you write down when and where the accident happened so you don't forget this important information that will be needed for the report.

Filling out an injury claim report protects you by recording the details about your injury and how the injury was related to your job or worksite. Washington State has a program in place to protect you if you get hurt from a job-related injury or illness called Workers' Compensation (see more information below).

If your supervisor does not provide you with the accident report form, contact L&I at 1-800-423-7233 or by email at teensafety@lni.wa.gov and they will send you the form.

Losing more than 3 days day of work because of a job-related injury or illness may entitled you to receive a percentage of your regular wage. The Workers' Compensation program may also pay for other costs related to your injury such as doctor and hospital bills for treating the injury.

If you have become injured or ill related to your job, talk to your parent, guardian, or teacher and let them know the situtation so they can help and support you.

For more information about Workers' Compensation in Washington State, see Injured: What You Need to Know.

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