The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) understands that the mandated closure of Pennsylvania schools due to the COVID-19 response effort may be causing some uncertainty for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, particularly for minors who wish to apply for a work permit and for school district personnel responsible for issuing work permits.
PDE and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) have temporarily modified the process for applying for a work permit to enable work permits to be issued during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minors (defined in the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act as an individual under 18 years of age), their parents or guardians, school district personnel, and others directly involved in serving those individuals covered under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act may follow the temporarily modified process during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic outlined below.
This modified process is only effective for the 2019-20 school year and while schools are closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. This process does not permanently replace previously established Child Labor Law procedures, which continue to serve as a guide and summary of the major provisions of the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act. Questions pertaining to compliance with employment laws and regulations should be directed to the L&I Bureau of Labor Law Compliance.
PDE will update this document with additional guidance as needed.
Page last updated: 10 a.m. on April 16, 2020
Does a student still need a work permit to work while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act requires all minors, which is any person under age 18, to obtain a work permit from the school district in which they reside, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the school district, attend a charter school or non-public/private school, or participate in a home education program.
Can minors work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. Minors may work during the pandemic, provided the work is consistent with any restrictions on employers during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Governor's orders. In all cases, when an employer hires a minor, the employer must notify the issuing officer at the student's school district of residence within five (5) days of such employment.
Does a student need a work permit before they have a job?
A student can apply for a work permit without having a job offer. They also can apply for and accept a job offer prior to obtaining a work permit. However, a student may not begin working until they receive a work permit from the school district in which they reside.
Where does a student get a work permit if school is closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year?
School districts are responsible for issuing work permits, even when school is closed.
Minors who reside in Pennsylvania and plan to work in Pennsylvania will apply for a work permit from the school district in which they reside, regardless of whether the minor is enrolled in the school district, attends a charter school or non-public/private school, or participates in a home education program. Minors experiencing homelessness may apply to the district in which they are enrolled.
Minors who reside in Pennsylvania but intend to work in another state will apply for a work permit from the state in which they will be working and should contact the school district in which the employer is located in that state.
A minor who resides in another state and plans to work in Pennsylvania will apply for a work permit from the school district in Pennsylvania in which the employer is located.
How does a student apply for a work permit, given social distancing requirements?
L&I has waived the in-person requirements of the work permit process for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year and while the Governor's stay at home order is in effect.
The steps below describe the temporary modified procedures.
- The student will download and complete the electronic Work Permit application from the PDE website. Students unable to access the electronic application should call or write to the school district to request that a paper application be mailed to them.
- The student's parent or legal guardian electronically signs the PDF or signs the paper application.
NOTE: Not all students need approval from a parent or guardian to apply for a work permit. For example, no signature is required if the minor provides official proof that they have graduated high school. More information about these exceptions is available on the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law section of PDE's website.
- The student attaches any required documents, such as a proof of age document, to the completed application and submits it to the school district.
- If applying electronically, the student may attach digital copies, such as a scan or digital photograph.
- If applying by mail with a paper application, the student should include photocopies of the required documents.
- If an applicant is unable to provide a required document with their application, they can present it to the school district issuing officer at the next stage of the process.
A list of required documentation is found on the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law section of PDE's website. Please be aware that all required documentation must still be submitted and reviewed; the temporary change relates only to the format in which those documents may be submitted to, and accepted by, the school district.
- Upon receipt of the application and documentation, the issuing officer at the school district schedules an appointment with the student that adheres to social distancing guidelines.
Appointments may be held virtually by way of videoconference. Social distancing also could be observed with a solid barrier between the issuing officer and applicant, such as a closed car window or clear glass door.
The purpose of the appointment is to enable the applicant to "appear before" the issuing officer, in accordance with the Child Labor Act, while following social distancing guidelines. It also enables the issuing officer to verify a proof of age document if one is required but the student was not able to provide a copy with the application.
- The school district issuing officer ensures that all the documents required by law have been examined, approved and filed, and all conditions and requirements for issuing a permit have been fulfilled, and then mails to the minor a wallet-sized, paper work permit bearing a number, the date of issuance, and signature of the issuing officer.
- The student signs the work permit when received and shows it to the employer, who makes a copy for their records. The student retains the original work permit.
Can a school district issue a work permit electronically?
No. Work permits must continue to be issued on a wallet-sized piece of paper, which the student should keep after their employer makes a copy for their records. Therefore, the district will need to mail the permit to the student.
Can issuing officers process work permit applications remotely during the period of mandated school closures?
Yes. School districts' issuing officers can temporarily issue work permits remotely during the pandemic. Districts should facilitate this temporary process by identifying an email address, mailing address, and phone number on their website so that inquiries and applications are directed to the issuing officer at the remote work location. Districts should ensure issuing officers working remotely are able to communicate with applicants via a secure school email address and videoconference, and have access to work permits, postage, and secure file storage for both paper applications and digital applications.
How many hours may a minor work, since schools are closed the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year and many school districts have shifted to remote learning?
The number of hours a minor is permitted to work depends on the minor's age and whether school is in session, as stipulated in the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act. Per guidance from L&I on work restrictions for minors during the COVID-19 pandemic, school is considered to be in session if the local school district requires minor students to attend classes at a physical location or to participate in distance learning. Please review the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act for specific information on the number of hours a particular minor may work when school is not in session. For all minors who are Pennsylvania residents, the "local school district" is the school district in which the student resides, regardless of whether they attend a public school within that district or another type of institution. For a minor who works in Pennsylvania but resides in another state, the "local school district" is the district in which the minor's job is located.