FEDERAL CHILD LABOR LAWS IN NONFARM JOBS
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended, protects
young workers from employment that might interfere with their
educational opportunities or be detrimental to their health or well-
The FLSA applies to most of the workers in the U.S. It covers all
workers who are engaged in or producing goods for interstate commerce
or who are employed in certain enterprises.
Child Labor Standards for 16- and 17-Year-old Youths
Youths aged 16 and 17 may work at any time for unlimited hours in all
jobs not declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Hazardous
occupations include: working with explosives and radioactive
materials; operating certain power-driven woodworking metalworking,
bakery, and paper products machinery; operating various types of
power-driven saws and guillotine shears; operating most power-driven
hoisting apparatus such as non-automatic elevators, fork lifts, and
cranes; most jobs in slaughtering, meat packing, rendering plants,
and the operation of power-driven meat processing machines when
performed in wholesale, retail or service establishments; most jobs
in excavation, logging, and sawmilling; roofing, wrecking,
demolition, and shipbreaking; operating motor vehicles or working as
outside helpers on motor vehicles; and most jobs in the manufacturing
of bricks, tiles, and similar products.
Exemptions from some of the hazardous occupations orders apply for
apprentices and students in vocational education programs.
Child Labor Standards for 14- and 15-Year-old Youths
Youths aged 14 and 15 may work in various jobs outside school hours
under the following conditions: no more than 3 hours on a school day
with a limit of 18 hours in a school week; no more than 8 hours on a
nonschool day with a limit of 40 hours in a nonschool week; and not
before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day,
when the evening hour is extended to 9 p.m.
Workers 14 and 15 years of age may be employed in a variety of jobs:
office work; various food service jobs, including cashiering, waiting
on tables, washing dishes, and pre-paring salads and other food
(although cooking is permitted only at snack bars, soda fountains,
lunch counters, and cafeteria serving counters); sales work and other
jobs in retail stores; errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle, and
public transportation; dispensing gasoline and oil and performing
courtesy services in gas stations; and most cleanup work.
Minors who are 14 and 15 years old may not work in the following
manufacturing, mining, most processing work, and all occupations
declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor; operating or tending
most power-driven machinery; public messenger service; and work
connected with warehousing, storage, transportation, communications,
public utilities, and construction (except office and sales jobs when
not performed on transportation vehicles or on construction sites).
Youths under 14 may work only if their jobs are exempt from the child
labor standards or not covered by the FLSA. Exempt work includes:
delivery of newspapers to consumers; performing in theatrical, motion
picture, or broadcast productions; and work in a business owned by
parents of the minor, except in manufacturing or hazardous
All states have child labor laws; when both state and federal child
labor laws apply, the law setting the more stringent standard must be
Federal law does not require age certificates or work permits.
Employers may protect themselves from unintentional violations of the
child labor laws by keeping on file an age certificate or work permit
for each minor employed. Certificates and permits issued under most
state laws are acceptable for this purpose.
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Labor Department's Employment
Standards Administration enforces the federal child labor laws.
Employers may be fined up to $10,000 for each minor who is the
subject of a child labor violation.
For more information...
Contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in
most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of
Labor, Employment Standards Administration.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department
of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and
does not carry the force of legal opinion.
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