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 an amendment lowering from 18 to 16 the age under which work permits are required, effective June 23, 2017.
Updated to reflect the repeal of a law that had allowed the Vermont Department of Labor to suspend hours of work restrictions during wartime, effective July 1, 2017.
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.
Updated to reflect the exemption for equine activities, effective June 7, 2016.
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.
HR guidance on complying with the FLSA requirements for child labor.