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 US 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 amendments to the night work prohibitions effective July 14, 2019.
Updated to reflect amendments to the night work prohibitions in New Hampshire, effective July 14, 2019.
Updated to reflect amendments to the regulations governing prohibited occupations, effective August 19, 2018.
A new regulatory agenda shows the US Department of Labor (DOL) intends to make changes to rules involving child labor, the regular rate of pay, the salary threshold for overtime-exempt employees, the minimum wage tip credit and more.
Updated to reflect an amendment to the permitted occupations for minors 13 years old and younger, effective March 30, 2018.
HR guidance on complying with the FLSA requirements for child labor.