Frequently Asked Questions About Working Papers

Click here to download the Working Papers Application.

Click here to download Working Papers Instructions.

Why do I need working papers?

The employment certification process was established to ensure that minors are working in safe jobs, under safe conditions. When an issuing officer suspects that a minor is being employed in an unsafe job or is being required to work beyond the hours that are allowable by Child Labor Law, the officer consults the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. If you have a specific question about Pennsylvania Child Labor Law, contact the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance at 1 (800) 932-0665.

Do I really need a job before I get working papers? A lot of employers say that they can't hire me until I have working papers.

Yes, you need a job before you can obtain working papers. You should download an application for working papers and bring it with you when you are looking for work. If an employer tells you that he cannot hire you until you have working papers, have him sign the application so that you can secure the working papers. Once you have the working papers, you can begin work.

How old do you have to be to begin working?

Except in certain special cases, children cannot start work until they turn 14 years old. Exceptions include golf caddies, newspaper delivery persons, and actors.

I'm 17 years old. Do I still need working papers?

Minors need working papers until they turn 18. Minors who are 17 years old and have graduated from high school no longer need working papers.

I lost my working papers. How do I get a new set of working papers? Do I have to go through the whole process again?

To get a new set of working papers, you must simply return to the office where you were originally certified. The issuing officer at the site where you were originally certified will be able to reissue you a permit for the job for which you were originally certified. If you have a new job, you should get a new, blank application signed by your new employer. Bring the application to the office where you were originally certified to receive a new work permit.

What's the difference between a "blue card" and a "yellow card"?

Minors are issued work permits according to their age. Applicants who are under the age of 16 are automatically issued a "Vacation Employment Certificate", which is a yellow card. Minors who are over the age of 16 are issued a "Transferable Work Permit", which is a blue card. Since 14 and 15 year olds are subject to stricter labor laws, they are issued the vacation employment certificate and are required to renew the certificate every time they secure a new job, until they turn 16. Once they turn 16, applicants are able to receive the transferable work permit which they can use for any job thereafter.

On the working papers application, Part B asks the parent to indicate which employment certificate they are requesting for their child. Which one should we choose?

Don't worry about this section. The type of employment certificate a minor is issued is determined by the student's age and enrollment status. The issuing officer will make this choice when you complete the process at one of the six working papers offices.

I received a "Vacation Employment Certificate". Is this card only good for employment during the summer?

No, the vacation employment certificate is issued to minors under the age of 16. It can be used all year.

What is a General Employment Certificate?

The General Employment Certificate is issued to minors who have withdrawn from school. Since they have "dropped out", these minors are subject to relaxed labor law requirements.

This summer, I am returning to work for the same employer I worked for last summer. Do I need to get a new set of working papers, or can I use the ones I had from last year?

If you have a transferable work permit ("blue card"), your working papers are transferable from one job to another. In that case, you don't need to ever get a new work permit, as long as you do not lose your old one.


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pdf File Working_Papers_Application.pdf
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