The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the guidelines for the federal minimum wage, when employees are entitled to overtime pay, and how many hours in a day or week a person can work.  While the act does not regulate the number of hours that people over the age of 16 can work, it does establish a number of stringent guidelines that you must follow when employing people who are under the age of 16.  

The labor code of the state in which you live may also contain additional restrictions on employing minors that you must follow in addition to those set up by the FLSA.  

Restrictions Under the FLSA:

Federal Labor law says that a minor who is under the age of 16 can work in non-mining, non-manufacturing, and non-hazardous jobs, for the following hours:

  • 3 hours on a school day
  • 18 hours in a school week
  • 8 hours on a non-school day
  • 40 hours in a non-school week
  • not before 7am or after 7pm, except from June 1 to Labor Day, when they can work until 9pm.

Under Your State’s Labor Code:

In addition to the regulations imposed by the FLSA, most states have rules about the hours that 16 and 17 year olds can work.  These are usually a bit more lenient.  In California, for example, a 16 or 17 year old can work 4 hours per school day and 28 hours in a week.  

Labor laws, especially those concerned with the employment of minors, can vary quite a bit from state to state, and it is important that you consult your state’s labor code before hiring a minor to work for you. 

What If I Have Violated the FLSA or My State’s Labor Code?

If you are found to have have violated these employment laws, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face imprisonment in a county jail or a fine of up to $5,000.00.  The penalties for any subsequent violations are even more serious. 

Should I Contact an Attorney About My Employment Issue?

An attorney can can help you determine what your state’s employment laws are and how they impact your business.  In the event that you are accused of violating either your state’s labor code or the FLSA, an employment attorney can represent and defend you.