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Work Permits


This is a follow up to the 4/1/2020 message concerning child labor permits during the current health emergency. The emergency order that was announced on 4/1/2020 has expired. However, the Department has promulgated an emergency rule that is substantially the same and extends the child labor enforcement holiday into the future.

 The emergency rule provides:

  • The operations of permit offices and employers using minors under age 16 may continue to operate in the same manner as they did under the previous emergency order.
  • The new end date for this process is September 1, 2020.
  • Employers shall file a permit application on behalf of each minor employee and pay the associated fee no later than October 1, 2020.
  • The application of this emergency rule is retroactive to May 11, 2020. The Department will decline to take any enforcement action against employers of minors who follow the process set forth in the emergency rule.  


You may have heard that the Governor signed an executive order that changes some of the work permit requirements during the state of emergency. Please keep in mind that these changes are all temporary and we will return to our prior practices after the state of emergency is lifted.

 The Executive Order does the following: 

  • Waives the requirement that new employees under age 16 obtain a work permit prior to starting employment.
  • Instead, employers can send information to our work permit email box This information includes
    • An attestation that they have reviewed the minor's proof of age and social security documents (but employers should not send us copies of these documents);
    • The offer letter from the employer, and;
    • The permission letter or countersignature from the parent or guardian.
  • ERD will decline to enforce the permit requirement during the state of emergency.
  • Employers will have 30 days after the state of emergency to acquire permits for all workers and to pay all applicable fees.
  • The order does not change the current legal requirements for hours per day or time of day, nor does it make any change to prohibited or hazardous employment rules. We will continue to enforce these rules during the emergency. 

The Equal Rights Division will follow up with employers after the state of emergency has been lifted. This will likely include a mass email that will remind them that they have 30 days to acquire work permits for the minor employees.


Law Change - Effective June 23, 2017

Changes to Wisconsin's child labor law remove the requirement that 16- and 17-year-old minors obtain work permits prior to beginning work. This law also changes the terminology to be used and refers to the "employment of minors" instead of "child labor."

Effective June 23, 2017,

· 16- and 17-year-old minors do NOT need to obtain a work permit prior to beginning work. Work permits will not be issued for minors ages 16 or 17.

· State law prohibits the use of minors to perform hazardous work. Prohibited employment provisions still apply to work that 16- and 17-year-old minors can be employed to perform.

· This law makes no changes to the requirements for minors younger than 16. Minors younger than 16 must obtain a work permit prior to beginning work, unless an exception applies.

· There are no changes to the maximum hours or times of days that minors younger than 16 may work, or the types of work that minors younger than 16 may perform.

For more information, you can read the full text of Act 11.

How to Obtain a Work Permit

To obtain a work permit, either the minor alone or the minor and a parent must visit the permit officer, taking with them:

· the minor's birth certificate or other proof of age,

· the minor's social security card

· letter from the employer expressing intent to hire, on employer's regular letterhead, describing: job duties, hours of work

· a written parent’s consent

· a $10.00 permit fee

Proof of Minor's Age

We may accept a valid operator's license or an identification card issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as proof of a minor's age. This means that we may now accept either a duly attested birth certificate, a verified baptismal certificate, or a driver’s license or photo ID card issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

For the Employer - Permit Fee Requirement

The employer must reimburse the $10.00 permit fee to the minor by no later than the date of the first paycheck.

Copies of the permit go to the employer and the minor, in addition to the school district where the minor is enrolled.

Any questions about Work Permits, please contact the District Office at (715) 373-6188 x160

By Shellie Heglund

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