In Chicago, and the rest of the state of Illinois, children can begin working at the age of 14. To protect minors from exploitative working conditions, the Illinois Department of Labor requires 14 and 15 year olds to get work permits and to work restricted hours. Children of this age may not work during class time, may only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year and between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. during the summer. They may not work more than 24 hours a week during the school year or 48 hours per week during the summer.
Search for a job. Tell prospective employers that you are under the age of 16 and will need to get a work permit before you can begin working.
Ask an employer who is interested in hiring you for a letter of intent. The letter must list the hours you will be working and describe your job duties. This demonstrates that the employer intends to comply with laws limiting when you can work and what types of work you may do.
Bring the letter of intent to your school guidance counselor. Your parent or guardian must accompany you to this meeting. Your guidance counselor will read over the letter and check your proposed work situation for compliance with the law. He may also require you to fill out an application for the permit. Your parent or guardian must sign a written notice giving you permission to work. If everything checks out, your school counselor will give you a certificate of employment, also known as a work permit.
Give your work permit to your prospective employer. She must keep it in her place of business for as long as you are working there.