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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - FLSA - Child Labor Rules

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the youth has to be at least 14 years of age to work, except in agriculture where the age limit is lower. If a youth is younger than 14, he or she may still help a neighbor with yard work, or do some babysitting, since these jobs are not covered by the FLSA. You may want to review what businesses and workers are covered by the FLSA by clicking on FLSA coverage.

Since the youth is 14 or 15 years old, he or she may only do certain jobs in certain places and may only work outside school hours for limited periods of time each day and each week. These rules must be followed unless one of the FLSA child labor exemptions apply.

The FLSA child labor rules determine what time of the day and how much a youth is allowed to work. As a 14- or 15-year-old, the youth may only work:

  • Before and after school hours, except in an approved school operated and supervised Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) or Work Study Program (WSP).
  • After 7:00 a.m. or before 7:00 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day when he or she can work until 9:00 p.m.

A 14- or 15-year-old, youth may not work:

  • More than 3 hours a day on school days, including Fridays;
  • More than 18 hours per week in school weeks;
  • More than 8 hours a day on non-school days;
  • More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.

School hours are determined by the hours of the local public school district where the minor resides while employed.

The child labor rules also determine what types of jobs a youth may or may not perform .

A 14- or 15-year-old may not work in:

  • Hazardous jobs identified by the Secretary of Labor;
  • Manufacturing, processing, and mining occupations;
  • Communications or public utilities jobs;
  • Construction or repair jobs;
  • Operating or assisting in operating power-driven machinery or hoisting apparatus other than typical office machines.
  • Work as a ride attendant or ride operator at an amusement park or a “dispatcher” at the top of elevated water slides;
  • Driving motor vehicles or helping a driver;
  • Youth peddling, sign waving, or door-to-door sales;
  • Poultry catching or cooping;
  • Lifeguarding at a natural environment such as a lake, river, ocean beach, quarry, pond (youth must be at least 15 years of age and properly certified to be a lifeguard at a traditional swimming pool or water amusement park);
  • Public messenger jobs;
  • Transporting persons or property;
  • Workrooms where products are manufactured, mined or processed;
  • Warehousing and storage.
  • Boiler or engine room work, whether in or about;
  • Cooking, except with gas or electric grills that do not involve cooking over an open flame and with deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets in and out of the hot grease or oil;
  • Baking;
  • Operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers or cutters and bakery mixers;
  • Freezers or meat coolers work, except minors may occasionally enter a freezer for a short period of time to retrieve items;
  • Loading or unloading goods on or off trucks, railcars or conveyors except in very limited circumstances.
  • Meat processing and work in areas where meat is processed;
  • Maintenance or repair of a building or its equipment;
  • Outside window washing that involves working from window sills;
  • All work involving the use of ladders, scaffolds, or similar equipment;
  • Warehouse work, except office and clerical work.

The jobs 14- and 15-year-old workers may legally perform are limited to:

  • Office and clerical work;
  • Work of an intellectual or artistically creative nature;
  • Bagging and carrying out customer's orders;
  • Cashiering, selling, modeling, art work, advertising, window trimming, or comparative shopping;
  • Pricing and tagging goods, assembling orders, packing, or shelving;
  • Clean-up work and grounds maintenance—the young worker may use vacuums and floor waxers, but he or she may not use power-driven mowers, cutters, and trimmers;
  • Work as a lifeguard at a traditional swimming pool or water amusement park if at least 15 years of age and properly certified;
  • Kitchen and other work in preparing and serving food and drinks, but only limited cooking duties and no baking (see below);
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables;
  • Cooking with gas or electric grills that do not involve cooking over an open flame and with deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets in and out of the hot grease or oil;
  • Clean cooking equipment, including the filtering, transporting and dispensing of oil and grease, but only when the surfaces of the equipment and liquids do not exceed 100° F;
  • Pumping gas, cleaning and hand washing and polishing of cars and trucks (but the young worker may not repair cars, use garage lifting rack, or work in pits);
  • Wrapping, weighing, pricing, stocking any goods as long as he or she doesn't work where meat is being prepared and doesn't work in freezers or meat coolers;
  • Delivery work by foot, bicycle, or public transportation;
  • Riding in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle except when a significant reason for the minor being a passenger in the vehicle is for the purpose of performing work in connection with the transporting—or assisting in the transporting of—other persons or property;
  • Loading and unloading onto and from motor vehicles, the hand tools and personal protective equipment that the youth will use on the job site.

Any work that is not specifically permitted for 14- and 15-year-olds is prohibited.

Remember, the youth may work for a parent in a solely-owned non-agricultural business except in manufacturing, mining, and hazardous jobs (which are listed on the next page).