Youth in the Workplace
Once a youth turns 18 years of age, there are no special federal rules on how or when they can be employed. However for youth under 18, there are specific rules on the wages they may be paid, the occupations and industries in which they are allowed to work, and the hours they may work. All states also have child labor standards. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to young workers apply.
The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The WHD's YouthRules! Web site provides information and resources that help promote positive and safe work experiences for young workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also offers resources for young workers, their employers, and parents to help keep them safe at work. These resources include e-tools on the safe employment of youth in restaurants and in agriculture.
See also Wages and Hours for Youth.
The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. The FLSA, which sets the minimum wage, provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. These individuals include student-learners (vocational education students), as well as full-time students employed by retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education. In addition, a special minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to employees under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer. After 90 days, FLSA requires employers to pay the full federal minimum wage.
Many states also have minimum wage laws. In cases where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.
Hours, Occupations, and Safety:
Child labor rules prohibit employment in certain hazardous occupations or industries for workers under the age of 18. There are also restrictions on how many hours in a day or week, or what hours in the day youth under 16 can work. These rules, particularly the occupations declared to be too hazardous for youth, are quite different for agricultural and non-agricultural employment.
- YouthRules! - A Web site designed to educate youth, parents, teachers, and employers on the hours and jobs that youth may work.
- Teen Workers - Teen safety and health information.
- Employment Law Guide - Child Labor (Nonagricultural Work) - Describes the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act in industries other than agriculture.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Child Labor
- Child Labor Bulletin - Covers basic child labor rules in nonagricultural occupations.
- Child Labor Bulletin - Covers basic child labor rules in agricultural occupations.
- Pocket Guide to Youth Employment (PDF) (Español PDF)
- Construction Employers Quick Guide to Teen Workers Rules (PDF) (Español PDF)
- Agricultural Employers Quick Guide to Teen Workers Rules (PDF) (Español PDF)
- Tips for Complying with Youth Employment Laws
- OSHA Safety Bulletin: Prohibition Against Young Workers Operating Forklifts
- Questions and Answers About the Minimum Wage
- Minimum Wage Laws in the States - Provides a clickable map that tells you what the minimum wage laws are in each state.
- Subminimum Wage - A topic page on programs that allow for payment of less than the full federal minimum wage to full-time students, student-learners and workers with disabilities for the work they are performing.
- Youth Employment in Nonagricultural Occupations
- Youth Employment in Agricultural Occupations
- Youth Employment in Amusement Parks and Other Recreational Facilities
- Employing Youth in Restaurants
- Employing Youth in Grocery Stores
- Federal Child Labor Laws in Farm Jobs - Provides general information about the employment of youth in agriculture. (Español)
- For other Industry specific fact sheets, see www.youthrules.dol.gov/factsheets.htm.
- Minimum Wage, Recordkeeping, and Child Labor Requirements of U.S. Law - Provides general information concerning federal minimum wage, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements that apply to foreign commercial vehicle operators and their helpers who work in United States territory.
- Youth Minimum Wage - Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Answers a variety of questions about the minimum wage, including the subminimum wage.
- elaws Child Labor Advisor - Addresses the workplace rules for young workers.
- elaws FLSA Advisor - Addresses key wage and hour topics, including minimum wage requirements.
- Youth in Agriculture - Explains agricultural safety hazards.
- Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants - Describes common hazards in restaurants and potential safety solutions.
Every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. For a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain, see the FLSA recordkeeping fact sheet.
Prior to paying an employee the subminimum wage, as allowed under certain provisions of the FLSA, employers may have to apply for a certificate from the U. S. Department of Labor. See the form instructions page for additional information.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (PDF) - Establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for private sector and government workers. Youth minimum wage provisions are contained in Section 6, and child labor provisions are contained in Section 12.
- 29 CFR Part 519 - Regulations regarding employment of full-time students at sub-minimum wages.
- 29 CFR Part 520 - Regulations regarding employment of messengers, learners (including student learners), and apprentices.
- 29 CFR Part 525 - Regulations regarding employment of workers with disabilities for the work being performed under special certificates.
- 29 CFR 570.2(a) - Regulations regarding the employment of young workers in non-agricultural jobs.
- 29 CFR 570.2(b) - Regulations regarding the employment of young workers in agricultural jobs.
- 29 CFR 570.50 to 570.68 - Regulations regarding hazardous occupations in non-agricultural work.
- 29 CFR 570.70 to 570.72 - Regulations regarding the hazardous occupations in agricultural work.
- 29 CFR 570.117 to 570.121 - Regulations concerning oppressive child labor.
- Employment Law Guide - Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay - Describes the statutes and regulations administered by DOL that regulate minimum wage and overtime pay.
- State Labor Standards - Provides links to selected state labor standards and information concerning youth employment.
- ETA's Office of Youth Services - Provides information regarding youth apprenticeships and career exploration programs administered by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA).
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Youth@Work Initiative - A national outreach effort to educate teenagers about their employment rights under discrimination laws. (Español)
Wage and Hour Division
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Tel.: 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)
- For questions on other DOL laws,
please call DOL's Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service.
Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)
*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.