Child Labor Laws

Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws, enacted by the Federal Government, restricts when children can work and what jobs they can do. Teens hired for nonagricultural employment (which is just about everything other than farm work) must be at least fourteen. Other child labor laws restrictions, regulating the type of positions young workers can hold and the type of work they can do are also in effect.


Child Labor Laws: Job Restrictions

18 Years of Age Once a youth reaches 18 years of age, he or she is no longer subject to the federal youth employment and child labor law provisions.

16 and 17 Years of Age Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Examples of equipment declared hazardous in food service establishments include power-driven meat processing machines (meat slicers, saws, patty forming machines, grinders, or choppers), commercial mixers and certain power-driven bakery machines.

14 and 15 Years of Age During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. On days when there’s no school and in the summer, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are limits on when children can work, too – no later than 7 p.m. during the school year and no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. Fourteen- and 15- year-olds may be employed in restaurants and quick-service establishments outside school hours in a variety of jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions.

Jobs Exempt from Child Labor Laws Regulations

In general, children of any age are permitted to work for businesses entirely owned by their parents, except those under 16 may not be employed in mining or manufacturing and no one under 18 may be employed in any occupation the Secretary of Labor has declared to be hazardous.

Minors employed in the delivery of newspapers to consumers are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) child labor provisions, as well as the wage and hours provisions.

Children employed as actors or performers in motion pictures or theatrical productions, or in radio or television productions are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. Therefore, FLSA rules regarding total allowable number of work hours in one day and allowable times of day to work do not apply.

There are other exemptions, including making evergreen wreaths at home, so, check the DOL Exemptions from Child Labor Law Rules for the full list.

Child Labor Regulation Changes

Youth Minimum Wage The law allows employers to pay employees under 20 years of age a lower wage for a limited period (90 calendar days, not work days) after they are first employed. Any wage rate above the $4.25 minimum wage for youth an hour may be paid to eligible workers during this 90-day period.

Working Papers (Employment/Age Certificates)

In some states, workers under eighteen may need to obtain working papers (officially called Employment/Age Certificates) in order to legally be able to work. The form may be available at school. Otherwise, child workers can get one at the state Department of Labor. Check the Employment/Age Certification list to see which guidelines apply to you. If it’s school, check with your Guidance Office. If it’s the Department of Labor, check with your state office.