What Is the Minimum Legal Age to Work in Michigan?

Children May Work in Limited Capacities

2 teenagers working
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Many adults can't wait for their scheduled vacation time so they can kick back and enjoy not working for a spell, but if you're a young person, you may be a lot more eager to become employed and begin earning your own money. Michigan has laws regarding the minimum legal age to work in the state. If, in fact, you're old enough to work, there are limits to how many hours you can work per week or per day. There are also differences between the amount of time you can work during the school year versus when you can work when school is out.

Working in Michigan as a Youth

If you're a youth who'd like to join the labor force in Michigan, you'll need a child employment certificate. The state requires these certificates for all kids under age 18. You can obtain an employment certificate from your school.

Although you'll need an employment certificate, Michigan does not require that minor workers have age certificates.

Minimum Age to Work in Michigan

Under federal child labor laws, the minimum age to work is 14 with some exceptions. But child labor laws in each state can supersede federal law. States often have their own minimum ages to work and they determine which permits are necessary. When there's a conflict between federal and state laws, the more restrictive law applies. If a state's law says that a child can begin working at 12 years old but the federal government says the age is 14, the child would have to wait until age 14 regardless of his state's more lenient rule.

That's not a problem in Michigan because the state says youths can generally begin working at 14 in a number of fields, so its rules are in line with those at the federal level. But there are a few additional rules regarding hours and school attendance. 

Other Minor Labor Laws

If you're in the 14- to 15-year-old age bracket, you may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. There are limitations on how long you can work, however. You can't be in school and at work collectively for more than 48 hours per week, so if your school day is six hours, you'll spend 30 hours in school per week—six multiplied by five is 30. That means you can't work more than 18 hours per week.

If you're an older teen who falls in the 16- to 17-year-old age bracket, you can work between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. You still can't work and be in school collectively for more than 48 hours, and you can't work for more than 24 hours per week while school is in session. Teens may work longer hours when school is not in session during the summer and extended school holiday breaks. Summer vacation is legally defined as June 1 through Labor Day. You're not allowed to work during regular school hours if you're age 15 or younger.

Child Workers

Michigan allows children under the age of 14 to work in some very limited capacities. Children between the ages of 11 and 14 can work as athletic referees at sports matches that include children younger than they are. Children in this age group may also work as caddies for golf or bridge. Lastly, juveniles 13 and up can get work setting traps for informal clay shooting events.

Where to Learn More 

If you're interested in more information about working as a youth in Michigan, then visit the Michigan State Labor website.