State Labor Laws

Every state has laws specifically dealing with child labor issues. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to youth workers will apply. Employers must comply with both federal law and applicable state laws.

Federal child labor rules are established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) FLSA rules affect full- and part-time workers in the private sector and in the federal, state, and local governments. The rules vary depending on the age of the youth worker and his or her occupation.

The FLSA "covers" or applies to all employees of certain enterprises. All employees of an enterprise, as defined by the FLSA, are covered regardless of the duties they perform. An important factor in determining coverage is interstate commerce, the generation of income over state lines by various means. If an employer engages in interstate commerce of any kind, its employees are covered by the FLSA and child labor laws in its state. If an employee is not an employee of one of these enterprises, he or she may still be covered if the employee's own duties meet certain interstate commerce requirements. In addition, if a business generates income of $500,000 per year, it is subject to federal labor laws.

Section 12(a) of the FLSA covers youth employed in an establishment in which goods are produced for commerce. Under this provision, the youth does not have to be personally engaged in the production of goods for interstate commerce to be protected by the child labor provisions of the FLSA. As long as somewhere in or about the establishment where the youth is employed, or within 30 days of the youth's employment, goods are produced and removed for shipment in commerce, the youth is protected by the child labor provisions of the FLSA.

Webpages on this Topic

State Labor Offices/State Laws
Information on state minimum wage rates and other state child labor topics.

State Departments of Labor Websites
Links to state departments of labor websites and contact information for each department.

elaws Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Advisor - Child Labor Rules
This Advisor answers questions about workers and businesses that are subject to the FLSA's child labor rules.