The federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for a minor to be employed. Many states, however, do require them for workers of certain ages. In addition to state labor departments, school guidance counselors might know if permits or proof-of-age certificates are required in that particular state. The Department of Labor will issue age certificates if the minor employee's state does not issue them, or if the minor is requested by his or her employer to provide one. However, the vast majority of age certificates are issued by states.
The purpose of these certificates is to protect the employer from prosecution for employing an under-aged worker. The possession of an age certificate constitutes a good faith effort to comply with minimum age requirements.
Some states require work permits or age certificates for young workers. In fact, most of the age certificates issued to young workers are issued by states. The fines for violation of this requirement can result in a monetary penalty for the employer. Consult your state department of labor for specific information on this issue.