If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can do any job that has not been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
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 16 or 17 years old, you can be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
Federal law establishes safety standards and restrictions for young workers in non-agricultural industries. The list of hazardous jobs that you are not permitted to do include the following types of work:
- Manufacturing or storing explosives.
- Driving a motor vehicle or work as an outside helper on motor vehicles—bans operating motor vehicles on public roads and working as outside helpers on motor vehicles, except 17-year-olds may drive cars or small trucks during daylight hours for limited times and under strictly limited circumstances.
- Coal mining—bans most jobs in coal mining.
- Most occupations in forest fire fighting, forest fire prevention, timber tract, forestry service, and occupations in logging and sawmilling operations.
- Power-driven woodworking machines.
- Exposure to radioactive substances and ionizing radiation—bans employment of minors where they are exposed to radioactive materials.
- Power-driven hoisting apparatus—bans operating, riding on, and assisting in the operation of most power-driven hoisting apparatus such as forklifts, non-automatic elevators, skid-steers, skid-steer loaders, backhoes, manlifts, scissor lifts, cherry pickers, work-assist platforms, boom trucks, and cranes. Does not apply to grease rack lifts used to raise cars in gasoline service stations, tire stores, and other establishments.
- Power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines.
- Mining, other than coal—bans most jobs in mining at metal mines, quarries, aggregate mines, and other mining sites including underground work in mines, work in or about open cut mines, open quarries, and sand and gravel operations.
- Power-driven meat-processing machines, slaughtering and meat packing plants—bans the operation of power-driven meat processing machines, such as meat slicers, saws and meat choppers, wherever used (including restaurants and delicatessens). Also prohibits minors from cleaning such equipment, including the hand-washing of the disassembled machine parts. This ban also includes the use of this machinery on items other than meat, such as cheese and vegetables.
- Power-driven bakery machines—bans the operation of power-driven bakery machines such as vertical dough and batter mixers; dough rollers, rounders, dividers, and sheeters; and cookie or cracker machines.
- Balers, compactors, and power-driven paper-products machines—bans the operation of all compactors and balers and certain power-driven paper products machines such as platen-type printing presses and envelope die cutting presses. 16- and 17-year-olds may load, but not operate or unload, certain scrap paper balers and paper box compactors under very specific guidelines.
- Manufacturing of brick, tile and related products.
- Power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs—bans the operation of, and working as a helper on, the named types of power-driven equipment, no matter what kind of items are being cut by the equipment.
- Wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations.
- Roofing operations and work performed on or about a roof—bans most jobs in roofing operations, including work performed on the ground and removal of the old roof, and all work on or about a roof.
- Trenching and excavation operations—bans most jobs in trenching and excavation work, including working in a trench more than four feet deep.
The regulations provide a limited exemption from some of these hazardous occupations for apprentices and student-learners who are at least 16 years of age and enrolled in approved programs.
To learn more about non-agricultural work that is hazardous for minors 16 to 17 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.
In non-agricultural work, if you are not an exempt employee, you must also receive time and one-half at your regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a 7-day workweek. Regular rate includes all compensation, such as certain bonuses and shift differentials. For more information, refer to the fact sheet on overtime requirements.