It depends on the type of job. The U.S. Department of Labor has laid out age-dependent regulations for hiring workers for a typical job that does not involve any potential hazardous working conditions for the employees:
- 18+ years old employee – can be hired for any job for unlimited hours
- 16-17 years old employee – can be hired for a job with non-hazardous working conditions for unlimited hours
- 14-15 years old employee – can be hired for any non-hazardous job during non-school hours for a maximum of 3 hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, 8 hours on a non-school day, and 40 hours in a non-school week. Also, the employee generally cannot begin work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
What about Hiring a Minor (under 18 Years Old) for a Job that Involves Hazardous Working Conditions?
The U.S. Department of Labor has severely limited the type of environment in which a minor can work. A person under 18 cannot work in any of the following conditions:
- Manufacturing any products like brick or tile
- Manufacturing or storing explosives
- Any environment which can lead to exposure to radioactive substances
- Meat packing/processing operations, roofing operations, and excavation operations
- Anything that involves driving or helping to operate a motor vehicle
- Logging, sawmilling, and any kind of mining
- Anything involving machines used for wood-work, hoisting equipment, metal-forming or doing other things with metal, cooking, sawing or cutting, making paper products, and wrecking and demolition
Special Regulations for Agricultural Work
Generally the rules for a minor working in an agricultural occupation tend to be a little less strict. A 16+ years old person can do any kind of agricultural work regardless of whether it is hazardous or not, and children as young as 10 or 11 can be hired to do work under special conditions and a waiver from the U.S. Department of Labor.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Accused of Illegally Employing Underage Workers?
You should immediately seek a criminal defense attorney, as illegal child labor can be considered a criminal offense. A criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights and potential defenses, and help you navigate the complex criminal legal system.
What Can I Do if I Know of an Employer Illegally Hiring Young Workers Under Dangerous Conditions?
You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor and also inform local authorities such as the police. If your child is being illegally employed under dangerous conditions you may want to seek an employment attorney because your child may be entitled to damages in a lawsuit for any harm done while working for the employer.