Overview: Employers sometimes turn to minors to perform the jobs that older works are less willing or less able to do. Without families to support, many minors also are willing to work for lower wages than adults.
But employers that hire minors must be careful to comply with the child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many states' laws. They regulate the occupations that minors may perform and the hours during which they may perform them.
The FLSA and state laws also require employers to maintain proof of age for minors. There are additional recordkeeping requirements as well.
Employers that violate FLSA regulations involving a child typically will face bigger penalties than if the violation had involved an adult.
Trends: In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor promulgated "the most ambitious and far-reaching revisions to the child labor regulations in the last thirty years." Among the changes was a loosening of the industries in which 14- and 15-year-olds are allowed to work. Now, younger workers can work not only in retail, food service and gasoline service establishments, but also in advertising, banking and information technology.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect forthcoming legislation repealing the law that allows the Vermont Department of Labor to suspend hours of work restrictions during wartime.
Updated to reflect a new law that adds learner’s permits as an acceptable proof of age for work permits.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming law that will allow parents and legal guardians to issue work certificates for youths under 16 years of age.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Georgia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to child labor.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Arkansas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to child labor.
This Quick Reference chart provides details about state restrictions on the hours during which minors may work: the maximum number of hours and/or days a minor may work per week; the maximum number of hours a minor may work per day; and certain timing restrictions such as the times of day during which minors may work and any restrictions forbidding a minor from working while school is in session.
Hawaii employers that employ minor employees who are 14 or 15 years of age should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Tennessee employers that employ minor employees (those under age 18) and seek to inform the minor employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with the law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Iowa employers that employ minor employees under age 16 and seek to inform the minor employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with Iowa law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
HR guidance on complying with the FLSA requirements for child labor.