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Child Labor: Federal

Child Labor requirements by state

Author: Cheryl D. Orr, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


  • The Fair Labor Standards Act's child labor provisions and accompanying regulations lay out the conditions under which minors (individuals under age 18) may be employed.
  • The FLSA provisions are targeted at both hours and the type of work performed by minors under age 16, and at barring hazardous work for minors who are under age 18. See 14- and 15-Year-Olds and 16- and 17-Year Olds.
  • The requirements vary depending on the age of the minors and whether they are working in an agricultural or a non-agricultural setting. See 14- and 15-Year-Olds; 16- and 17-Year Olds and Agricultural Work.
  • There are also specific exemptions for particular jobs. See Miscellaneous Exemptions.
  • Employers must post the U.S. Department of Labor's Minimum Wage Poster listing minimum age requirements in a prominent place at the worksite.
  • The use of child labor may also be restricted for example by state labor codes, wage orders and education codes. If state law and the FLSA overlap, the law which is more protective of the minor will apply. +29 C.F.R. § 570.50.
  • Employers should always maintain proof of age for all employees under the age of 19. See Certificates of Age.
  • Penalties for violating the FLSA's minimum age standards can run as high as $11,000 per violation if not willful and $100,000 if willful or repeated and resulting in the death or serious injury of a minor. See Employee Compensation > Enforcement, Liability, Prevention and Defense > Civil Penalties.
  • In addition to the FLSA's child labor requirements, employers also must comply with the FLSA requirements for all employees, regardless of age.