If you are 14 or 15 years old, there are many limits to the kinds of jobs that you can do in non-agricultural work, particularly in occupations that the Secretary of Labor has declared hazardous. However, once you turn 18 years old, these restrictions no longer apply. In addition, as a 14 or 15 year old, you are limited in what hours you can work.
States also have rules, and employers must comply with both. Check your state’s work laws: www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state
If you are 14 or 15 years old, you can only work outside of school hours. The federal youth employment requirements limit the times of day and the number of hours that you may work as well. You may not work:
- More than 3 hours on a school day, including Friday;
- More than 18 hours per week when school is in session;
- More than 8 hours per day when school is not in session;
- More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session; and
- Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.
If you are home schooled, attend private school, or no school, a “school day” or “school week” is any day or week when the public school where you live while employed is in session. There are some exceptions to the hours standards for 14- and 15 year-olds if you have graduated from high school, you are excused from compulsory school attendance, or you are enrolled in an approved Work Experience or Career Exploration Program or Work-Study Program.
If you are 14 or 15 years old, you can work outside school hours in a variety of non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions. The jobs that you are allowed to work at include the following:
- Most retail occupations, including cashiering, selling, price marking, packing and shelving;
- Intellectual or creative work such as computer programming, teaching, tutoring, singing, acting, or playing an instrument;
- Errands or delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transportation;
- Clean-up and yard work which does not include using power-driven mowers, cutters, trimmers, edgers, or similar equipment;
- Certain work in connection with cars and trucks, including dispensing gasoline or oil, and car washing or hand polishing
- Some kitchen and food service work including reheating food, washing dishes, cleaning equipment, and limited cooking;
- Cleaning vegetables and fruits, wrapping sealing, and labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking of items when performed in areas separate from a freezer or meat cooler;
- Loading or unloading objects for use at a work site including rakes, hand-held clippers, and shovels;
- 14- and 15-year-olds who meet certain requirements can perform limited tasks in sawmills and woodshops; and
- 15-year-olds who meet certain requirements can perform lifeguard duties at traditional swimming pools and amusement parks.
If an occupation is not specifically permitted, it is prohibited for youth ages 14 and 15.
See more for information on the jobs that you are allowed to do:
Federal law establishes safety standards and restrictions for young workers in non-agricultural industries. If you are 14 or 15 years of age, the following is just a sample of prohibited occupations:
- You are prohibited from working in any of the Hazardous Orders or in most occupations involving transportation, construction, warehousing, communications and public utilities.
- You may not work in processing, mining, in any workroom or workplace where goods are manufactured or processed, in freezers, or in meat coolers.
- You may not operate or tend any power-driven machinery, except office machines.
- You may not perform any baking operations.
- You may not be employed in youth peddling, sign waving, or door-to-door sales activities.
- You may not work from ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes.
You may not be employed to catch or coop poultry.
To learn more about non-agricultural work that is hazardous for minors 14 to 15 years of age, check out the Child Labor Requirements in Non-Agricultural Occupations bulletin and fact sheet here:
There may be some exceptions that apply to your particular situation, so check with your local Wage and Hour Division office if you have questions. Be sure to check state rules for young workers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules that apply to all employees, regardless of their age.
An employer must pay you at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all the hours that you work, except under certain circumstances. Employers can pay you a wage based on an hourly rate, a piece rate, a day rate, a salary, or any combination – but your hourly earnings must average at least the applicable minimum wage. Your state laws may require a higher wage rate, so be sure to contact your local state office for more information.
If you are under 20 years of age, you can be paid $4.25 per hour during your first consecutive 90 calendar days of working for an employer. Certain full-time students, student learners, apprentices, and workers with disabilities can be paid less than the minimum wage under special certificates issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. For more information on these special situations or on exemptions to the minimum wage, please contact your local Wage and Hour Office.