Work Permits

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Youths under 18 years of age must obtain a youth employment certificate (work permit) when employed even if employed by their parents. The certificate and the issuing instructions can be obtained from the North Carolina Department of Labor Website: The North Carolina Department of Labor encourages all youths to obtain the necessary YEC online. If this is impossible, YEC can be found at some local high schools and at most Social Service offices.

The North Carolina youth employment provisions generally apply to all employers doing business in North Carolina regardless of their size or number of employees except that governmental, agricultural and domestic employers are totally exempt from the North Carolina youth employment provisions including the requirement to obtain a North Carolina work permit for youths under 18.

Youth Employment

The youth employment provisions of the Wage and Hour Act are designed to protect minors by restricting the types of jobs and the number of hours they may work. North Carolina law adopts the federal employment standards for 14-17-year-old youths employed in non-farm jobs, as well as the exceptions to those limitations; however, the Wage and Hour Act establishes some additional, more stringent requirements that must be followed by all non-farm employers. Farm work is completely exempt from any of the provisions of the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act. Employment in hazardous or detrimental occupations is not permitted for youth under the age of 18.

Youth Employment Certificate (YEC) Requirements

An employer may not employ any youth less than 18 years of age until that youth has obtained a YEC.

  • YECs may be obtained online. Click here to obtain one  
  • The employer shall maintain a copy of the YEC where it is readily accessible to any person authorized to investigate youth employment.
  • The employer shall maintain the certificate as long as the youth is employed and for two years after employment terminates.


Rules for youth who are age 14 & 15. They may be employed:

  • No more than three hours a day when school is in session for the youth and no more than eight hours a day if school is not in session.
  • Only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (9 p.m. during the summer when school is not in session).
  • A maximum of 18 hours per week when school is in session or 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
  • Only outside school hours.
  • When a required 30-minute break is provided after any period of five consecutive hours of work.

Rules for youth who are age 16 & 17:   During the school term, youth who are enrolled in grades 12 or lower cannot be employed between 11 pm and 5 am when they have school the next day.  Exception:  When the employer gets written permission from the young person's parents and principal.


  • Youths less than 14 years of age: Work is generally not permitted for youths under 14 years of age except when working for the youths parents,  home delivery of newspapers, or modeling or acting in a movie or theater production. 
  • Youth 14-15 years of age: Work may be performed in retail businesses, food service establishments, service stations and offices of other businesses. Work is not permitted in manufacturing, mining, on construction sites, with power-driven machinery, on the premises of a business holding an ABC permit for the on-premises sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages, or in hazardous or detrimental occupations.
  • Youth 16-17 years of age: Work in hazardous/detrimental occupations (listed below) is not permitted.


Seventeen Hazardous Orders: The Wage and Hour Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act have 17 hazardous occupations in which no youth under the age of 18 may be employed. These limitations apply to all youths under the age of 18, even those employed by their parent or legal guardian.

  • Manufacturing and storing explosives
  • Motor-vehicle driving and outside helper**
  • Coal mining
  • Logging and sawmilling
  • Power-driven woodworking machines*
  • Exposure to radioactive substances
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatus
  • Power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines*
  • Mining, other than coal mining
  • Slaughtering, meat-packing processing or rendering*
  • Power-driven bakery machines
  • Power-driven paper-products machines*
  • Manufacturing brick, tile and kindred products
  • Power-driven circular saws, bandsaws and guillotine shears*
  • Wrecking, demolition and ship-breaking operations
  • Roofing operations*
  • Excavation operations*

* Limited apprenticeship or student-learner program exemptions may apply.

** The Wage and Hour Act has a limited exemption for businesses covered by N.C. law only. The youth must be 16 or 17 years of age with a valid N.C. drivers license. The youth may drive an automobile not more than 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Employers subject to the FLSA are subject to more limited driving restrictions