The Catholic University of America

Summary of District of Columbia Laws


Employment of Minors

D.C. Code Ann. § 32-201 to 32-224 and §§ 32-241 to 32-244

The Law: The District of Columbia imposes certain requirements on employers who hire minors (under the age of 18 years). These requirements depend on the age of the minor, the type of employment involved, and the time period of the employment. The District imposes seasonal restrictions on employment, as well as restrictions on the number of hours per day and week, and the specific hours a minor may work between during the day. Generally, no minor will be permitted to work if it will be dangerous to his/her health, safety, or welfare.

Type of Work: Generally, minors under the age of 18 may not work without a permit. (See "Time Limitations" and "Permit Requirements" below for more information.) If a minor is under age 14, he/she cannot work in any connection with a gainful occupation. Minors are permitted to work without a permit doing housework outside of school hours in a parent's or guardian's home, and may do agricultural work in connection with his/her home. Minors over 10 years of age may also work in the distribution or sale of newspapers outside of school hours, but if under 12, the minor may not do so in a public place. Therefore, a minor age 10 to 12 may only sell or distribute newspapers (including magazines and periodicals) on a fixed route. However, there is an exception for political literature or petitions for which the minor is not monetarily compensated.

The Board of Education may issue "theatrical permits" which allow minors to participate in performances of licensed theatres, musicals, dance recitals, concerts, radio and television programs, motions pictures, professional sports activities, the circus, or appear as a fashion model.

Time Limitations: With a valid work permit, minors age 16 or 17 are allowed to work no more than six (6) consecutive days a week, no more than 48 hours a week, and no more than eight (8) hours any day. Nor may they work before 6:00 am or after 10:00 pm. If the minor is under 16, he/she may not work before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm. However, during the summer (June 1st through Labor Day), a minor under age 16 is permitted to work until 9:00 pm.

With a valid theatrical permit, minors may not appear in more than two (2) live performances per day, or more than eight (8) live performances in one (1) week. Minors may not work before 7:00 am or after 11:30 pm. Additional limitations are imposed for minors age 7 and under. Specifically, minors fewer than 6 months old may remain at a place of employment for a maximum of two (2) hours and not participate in work for more than 20 minutes. Minors 6 months to 30 months old may remain for a maximum of four (4) hours and work no more than two (2) hours. The balance of the four (4) hour period must be for rest or recreation. Finally, minors age 30 months to 7 years may remain at work for a maximum of six (6) hours, but work no more than three (3) hours. The balance of the time period must be for rest, recreation, or education.

Permit Requirements: There are three (3) different types of permits: work, vacation, and theatrical. A permit is not needed if the minor is "employed" outside of school hours in irregular or casual work at the home of the employer, as long as it is not in connection with a business, trade, profession, or occupation of the employer. For example, mowing a neighbor's lawn does not require a permit.

Work permits must be applied for by the minor and are issued by the Board of Education. The application must state the name, sex, date, place of birth, and place of residence of the minor. It must also state the last grade completed by the minor and any other details the Board may consider necessary to identify the minor. In addition, it shall state the name and address of the employer, the nature of the occupation employed, and must certify that all the requirements imposed have been met. It then must be signed by the issuing officer, assigned a permit number, provided with the date of issue, signed by the minor, and mailed or delivered to the employer.

Other application requirements include a statement by the employer or his/her agent stating that the employer expects to provide the minor with employment, indicating the nature of the employers occupation, the number of hours per day and the days per week which the minor will work. Minors under 16 must also submit a certificate of physical fitness for the specified employment, which must be signed by a licensed physician. Also, if a minor is under 16, written consent of a parent, guardian, or custodian must be obtained.

If the minor will be withdrawing from school for employment, the parent, guardian, or custodian must appear in person to sign the consent form. In addition, a school record must be submitted, signed by an authorized person of the last school attended if the minor under 16 is withdrawing from school. The record must indicate that the minor either completed the eighth grade, the equivalent in public school, or has received instruction in a private or parochial school deemed by the Board to be equivalent to the eighth grade in public school.

In order to issue the permit, the Board requires evidence of the minor's age in the form of: a birth certificate or attested transcript by an authorized officer; records from the first school attended; a baptismal record or certified transcript with date of birth and place of baptism; a contemporary record kept in a family Bible where such dates are preserved; or any other documentary evidence satisfactory to the Board. (For example, a passport or life insurance policy.)

Note: These general requirements also apply to theatrical permits.

Vacation permits may be issued to minors between the ages of 14 and 16. The permit allows the minor to work during regular summer vacation periods of public school or during the school term when school is not in session. The application requirements are the same as for the work permit, except that the minor does not have to complete the eighth grade. The permit is a different color than the work permit and states the permissible periods the minor may work.

Postings: Employers must conspicuously post a printed notice (obtained by an authorized Board official) where minors will see it. The notice must say what the regulations are regarding the number of hours and the time of day that minors may work and what occupations are prohibited.

Recordkeeping: In order for a minor to work, the employer must have on file a work or vacation permit that has been issued and must make it accessible to the attendance officer, inspector, or other authorized officers. Employers must keep an accessible list of all minors that are employed and the times they work each day.

The Board official may demand proof of age if they suspect an employee is a minor and without a work permit. Within 10 days of the demand, the employer must furnish the evidence that a work permit was issued for the minor, the employee is 18 or older, or that the employer refused to allow the minor to work. The employee may not continue to work if the employer cannot produce this evidence.

Note that if a minor is employed, the Board and its inspectors and agents may visit and inspect the place of employment at any time in order to enforce the law.

Other Requirements: If a minor is employed under a theatrical permit, for each three (3) or fewer infants under the age of 30 months, the employer must provide a licensed practical nurse with substantial pediatric experience or a registered nurse.

No owners or employers may permit a minor under 16 to loiter on the premises during school hours if he/she reasonably believes the minor to be truant or unlawfully absent from school.

Penalties: A violation occurs when a minor is permitted to work without compliance with the law or if an employer interferes with the Board, its officers or agents, or other authorized personnel. Upon the first offense, the employer may be fined between $1,000 and $3,000, imprisoned between 10 and 30 days, or both. Upon a second offense, the employer may be fined between $3,000 and $5,000, imprisoned between 30 and 90 days, or both. Each day of the violation is considered a separate offense.

The penalty for allowing a truant minor to loiter on the premises is a fine between $25 and $300, or imprisonment for 10 to 30 days.


Georgetown University Summary of Rules*

GWU HR page on Obtaining a Work Permit for a Minor*

SHRM: Employing Minors Requires Attention to Laws

Questions and Answers

Q. If a student has provided the university with working papers for a period of past employment, are new working papers needed to bring her back for three days?

A. Work papers issued for a student to work at a particular institution are good until the student turns age 18, even if there is a lapse in employment. If the student wants to work elsewhere, she would need new work papers.





updated 11-9-17