Getting permission for minors in agricultural jobs to work extra hours

If there is "good cause" why a minor needs to work more hours than are normally allowed as shown on the chart below, the business can apply for a variance from the Department of Labor & Industries.

Note:

These child labor rules do not apply to immediate family members of farm owners.

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  • Expand/collapse What is a variance?

    An agricultural business must request a variance for a teen worker to be able to work more hours per day or days per week than the normal hours would allow. A variance is rarely granted to allow a minor to work in a prohibited work activity since these duties are considered hazardous to youth. L&I does not grant variances for anything that is covered under the federal child labor laws.

  • Expand/collapse Who can request a variance?

    An agricultural business can request a variance if the business and the teen worker feel there is "good cause," as long as it is not harmful to the teen. The business must have a valid Minor Work Permit. See page about Hiring Minors in agricultural jobs.

  • Expand/collapse What does "good cause" mean?

    Variances will be allowed for “good cause”— like to meet crop or harvest requirements or for weather emergencies, when the business can show that the variance will not harm the minor’s health, safety, welfare and school performance.

  • Expand/collapse How does the agricultural business apply for a seasonal group variance?

    Under limited circumstances Labor & Industries will grant a variance from the hours of work rules on a temporary basis due to the seasonal nature of certain agriculture-related work activities. Employers should submit the seasonal group variance form to:

    The Employment Standards program
    Department of Labor & Industries
    PO Box 44510, Olympia, WA 98504-4510
    Fax: 360-902-5300
    E-mail: TeenSafety@LNI.wa.gov


    If necessary, L&I staff may request additional information from the business.

  • Expand/collapse When does a variance expire?

    Most variances expire annually, usually at the same time as the Minor Work Permit, and must be renewed, if applicable. Some variances are specific to a season or period of time and the expiration will be specified in the approval letter the business receives from the department.


For more information see the L&I publication:
Young Workers in Agriculture. (F700-096-909)

For more detail, see L&I Administrative Policy:
Acrobat PDF file School Week and Work Week for Minors (ES.C.4.1.) (134 KB PDF)

For more detail, see Washington Administrative Code:
Agriculture Employment Rules (WAC 296-131).

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