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California

October 13, 2009

New Work Permit Law Effective January 1, 2010

On October 11, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed A.B. 66, a new law that will make it easier for private homeschool students who want to have a part-time job to get work permits. A.B. 66 goes into effect January 1, 2010.

Minors between ages 12 and 18 must have a work permit before they can work at most kinds of jobs in California. A.B. 66 basically makes two changes to the process of obtaining a work permit:

  1. It requires the hours a student may work to be correlated to the days his or her school of enrollment is in session, as opposed to the days the public schools are in session as under current law; and
  2. It changes who may issue work permits to students enrolled in public schools and private schools, including private homeschools.

Beginning January 1, 2010, a work permit may be issued to a student by the principal of the school that the student attends, or by an administrator, who has been designated by the principal. This applies to students in any school, including both public and private schools. Thus, under the new law, principals of schools offering homeschool programs (or another administrator designated by the principal) can issue permits to students enrolled in their schools.

An important caveat in the new law is that an individual who issues a work permit cannot issue one to his own child. This prohibition applies to all issuers, including public and private school principals or administrators. However, under this new law, if a student attends a school at which his parent is the principal or administrator, the parent would be able to designate a different administrator to issue the permit to his own child. This clause was included in the bill by the author as a perceived “safeguard” so that there would be a third person outside the family who would be able to objectively determine whether the student’s job has a detrimental effect on his education.

We never suggested or supported the “safeguard” language because we believe that homeschool parents should be able to issue work permits to their own children. However, there was such strong opposition to this idea that the bill would not have moved forward without it. It is important to note that under existing law, homeschool parents could not legally issue permits to their own children, so the inclusion of this restriction in the new law does not represent any practical change. Also, under existing law, homeschool students in both PSPs and individual family schools were often denied permits because they generally had to obtain them from the public school officials. Because the new law makes a huge step forward from current law and without any loss of freedom, we worked hard for its passage.

An additional requirement of the new bill is that principals or administrators who do issue work permits will have to self-certify that they understand the requirements of existing law for issuing permits, and they’ll have to submit a copy of each issued permit to the superintendent of the school district in which the school is located. When the self-certification process is established, information will be published on how to follow the work permit process.

Finally, the superintendent will continue to have authority to revoke work permits if he or she finds that the student may be ineligible for a work permit.

The following persons may still continue to issue work permits under the new law, and they are now specifically permitted to issue permits to private school students if the private school does not issue work permits:

  1. The superintendent of the school district in which the student lives or any public school personnel designated by the district superintendent,
  2. If the student does not live within the jurisdiction of any school district, the superintendent of schools of the county in which the student lives, or any public school personnel designated by the superintendent of schools of the county in which the student lives.

A.B. 66 does not change any other laws dealing with child labor or work permits for students enrolled in schools in California. This paper does not attempt to discuss or present all of the laws dealing with work permits or child labor, with which you will want to be familiar before your child needs to request a work permit.

A special thanks to Mary Schofield who has worked diligently as Family Protection Ministries’ special consultant for several years to get this legislation passed, which makes it easier for private homeschool high school students to be able to obtain work permits.