The United States Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) child labor provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prevent them from working in jobs that are hazardous to their health and safety. The FLSA establishes wages, hours worked, and safety requirements for minors (individuals under 18 years old) working in jobs covered by the statute. The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years old for non-agricultural jobs, restricts the hours that individuals under 16 may work, and prohibits any minor from being employed in hazardous occupations.
All employees of an enterprise are covered by the statute regardless of the duties they perform. As defined by the FLSA, enterprises include any type of government agency (federal, state, or local), a hospital, a school or institute of higher learning, and a company or organization with an annual dollar volume of sales or receipts of $500,000 or more.
All federal employment laws on discrimination, safety and health, benefits, etc. apply to both minors and adult workers.
Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division carry out FLSA enforcement across the United States by gathering data on wages, hours, and other employment practices or conditions to ensure that employers are complying with the guidelines. When violations are found, investigators may recommend changes to bring an employer into compliance. It is a violation to fire or discriminate against an employee who files a complaint or participates in a legal proceeding involving FLSA violations. Employers who willfully violate FLSA guidelines regarding child labor provisions may be prosecuted criminally and pay fines up to $10,000 for each employee who was the subject of the violation. Repeat violators may face imprisonment.
All U.S. states have standards concerning youth employment. If federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to young workers will apply. States may also have separate legal penalties for violating child labor laws.
The states have different age requirements for youth working during school hours and youth working outside of school hours, as well as different ages for agricultural jobs. 28 states have their own minimum working age for minors working during school hours, which ranges from 12 to 18 years old. Minimum ages for working outside of school hours and for agricultural jobs range from 9 to 14 years old depending on the state and the crop. A few states do not have a minimum age for agricultural jobs as long as the youth has parental consent. Utah is one of these states.
Illinois has the youngest minimum age of 12 years for youth working during school hours. If working outside of school hours, the minimum age decreases to 10 years old.
In Oregon, the minimum wage for working during school hours is 16; however, if working outside of school hours, the minimum age is 12. Furthermore, the minimum age for working outside of school hours is further reduced to 9 years old if picking berries or beans for intrastate use with parental permission.
Minimum Working Age
|Alabama||14||Minors require a Class I Child Labor Certificate (ages 14 and 15) or a Class II Child Labor Certificate (ages 16 and 17).|
|Alaska||14||Youth under 14 may only work in newspaper sales and delivery, babysitting, handiwork and domestic employment in or about private homes and in the entertainment industry as a performer. | All minors 14, 15, 16 years of age must have an approved work permit. | A new work permit must be obtained for each new job|
|Arizona||14||Neither employment certificates nor age certification is required. Certain types of work are considered hazardous and so are prohibited to children in certain age groups.|
|Arkansas||14||In order to employ a worker under 16, the employer must obtain a permit from the Arkansas Department of Labor. Workers aged 14-15 are subject to limitations on the hours of work and types of work they can perform.|
|California||14||All workers under the age of 18 must have a work permit unless working as a babysitter or doing odd jobs at a residence. | Certain jobs are prohibited for workers under the age of 16. Restricted jobs include working on a railroad or a boat, in mines or tunnels, or as a driver.|
|Colorado||12||Children from 9 to 18 and up can work only specific authorized jobs.|
|Connecticut||14||Between ages 14 and 18, child labor is permitted but heavily regulated with hours limited and hazardous work barred.|
|Delaware||14||Work permits are required for all employed minors under the age of 18.|
|Florida||14||Children who work in a parent's business in a non-hazardous occupation, or in newspaper delivery may start at 10 years of age.|
|Georgia||12||Work permits are required for all workers under the age of 16.|
|Hawaii||14||Minors aged 14 and 15 are allowed to work very limited hours. | Minors aged 16 and 17 require an Age Certificate, issued by the Hawaii Department of Labor.|
|Idaho||14||Work hours are restricted for minors under the age of 16.|
|Illinois||14||Minors under 16 years of age must have an approved work permit and may only accept certain approved jobs.|
|Indiana||14||Employers of minors who are 14-17 years of age must post the maximum number of hours minors may be employed or permitted to work in each day of the week.|
|Iowa||14||A work permit applies to minors ages 14 or 15 years old|
|Kansas||14||Exceptions include (but are not limited to) paper routes, farm work, and child actors/actresses, children employed by their parents in non-hazardous occupations, and household chores. | Work permits required for children under the age of 16 who are not enrolled in or attending secondary school.|
|Kentucky||14||Employers of children under age 18 must maintain a proof of age.|
|Louisiana||14||Minors authorized to work in Louisiana are subject to restrictions on when and how many hours they can work. The exact restrictions depend on the age of the minor and are designed to ensure work does not interfere with the minor's schooling.|
|Maine||14||Employers must have a stamped, approved work permit on file before allowing any minor under 16 years old to work.|
|Maryland||14||Work Permit is required for minors aged 14-17.|
|Massachusetts||14||Youth Employment Permits required for all workers under 18.|
|Michigan||14||A work permit is required unless the minor is exempt from the act. | Minors may be employed in most jobs except those considered hazardous.|
|Minnesota||14||Exceptions to the minimum of 14 years include newspaper carrier (at least 11 ) and agriculture (at least 12 and with parental/guardian consent).|
|Mississippi||14||14- and 15-year-old minors may work up to 3 hours a day.|
|Missouri||14||Youths aged 14-15 are permitted to work, but their work, as well as the work of all children in the entertainment industry, is subject to restrictions.|
|Montana||14||At age 16, a child may be employed for most work other than work in specified hazardous or dangerous fields, such as demolition, logging, mining, or with radioactive materials. | Youths aged 16-17 excluded as minors if they are student-employees and under supervision of a qualified and experienced person.|
|Nebraska||14||Minors aged 14-15 may work up to 8 hours a day or 48 hours per week, and not before 6am or after 10pm.|
|Nevada||14||Minors under age 16 may work a maximum of eight hours per day and 48 hours per week.|
|New Hampshire||12||A Youth Employment Certificate is required for any youth 12 to 15 years old and must be on file at the employer's place of business within 3 business days of the first day of employment.|
|New Jersey||16||Minors aged 14-16 may work in theatrical productions with a permit and may work outside school hours in agricultural pursuits, in street trades, and as newspaper deliverers.|
|New Mexico||14||Minors aged 14-15 may work up to 3 hours a day.|
|New York||14||Minors aged 14-15 may not work more than 40 hours a week.|
|North Carolina||14||Minors aged 14-15 may only work in retail, food service, service stations, and other business offices.|
|North Dakota||14||Permit required to hire workers aged 14 and 15.|
|Ohio||14||Minors aged 14-17 must have a work permit.|
|Oklahoma||14||Employment Certificate of Age and Schooling (Form 601 aka work permit) required for 14-15-year-olds.|
|Oregon||14||Employment permit required to employ minors under the age of 14.|
|Pennsylvania||14||Minors aged 14-17 must have a work permit. Minors under 16 also require written permission from parent or legal guardian.|
|Rhode Island||14||Certificate of Age issued by the School Department is required for minor employment.|
|South Carolina||14||No work permit required.|
|South Dakota||14||No work permit required.|
|Tennessee||14||Minors prohibited from working in certain occupations, parental consent forms may also be required.|
|Texas||14||No work permit required.|
|Utah||14||Children under 14 may deliver newspapers, babysit, or work in lawn care. 14-and-older can work non-hazardous jobs including retail sales, restaurant work, or office work.|
|Vermont||14||Children aged 14-16 are prohibited from working in an extensive list of occupations, and their hours of work are restricted.|
|Virginia||14||14-15-year-olds must have an employment certificate, (Code of Virginia § 40.1-84) have limits on hours they can work, and cannot work in certain jobs considered to be unhealthy, unwholesome, or dangerous.|
|Washington||14||Minors under 14 must have and post a current minor work permit.|
|West Virginia||14||Ages 14-17 are permitted gainful employment as long as the requirements of state law relating to child labor are honored.|
|Wisconsin||12||Minors aged 12-15 must possess a valid work permit before work may be performed.|
|Wyoming||14||All employers employing minors under the age of 16 must keep proof of age on file.|