Pursuant to California Labor Code, the term “minor” refers to any person who’s under the age of 18 years old and who is required to attend school under the provisions of the Education Code. Minors who are emancipated from their parents or legal guardians are still subject to California’s child labor laws, but they can apply for a work permit without their parents’ permission. Nearly all minors are covered under California’s child labor protections.

How Many Hours Can a Minor Work?

Labor laws are quite strict when it comes to working minors, and how many hours a child can work depends largely on his or her age and grade level. Below is some general information on child labor laws.

  • Age 12 and 13: Can only be employed during school holidays, vacations, and weekends, and can never be employed on any school day either before or after school. If school is not in session, they can work a full 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
  • Age 14 and 15: Must have completed 7th grade to work while school is in session. If they have completed 7th grade, can work 3 hours per school day, 8 hours on non-school days, and 18 hours per week. If school is not in session, they can work 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
  • Age 16 and 17: Must have completed 7th grade to work while school is in session. If they have completed 7th grade, can work 4 hours per school day. If school is not in session, they can work 8 hours on non-school days and 48 hours per week.

It’s important to note that minors in the entertainment industry are regulated by a different set of standards. For example, children who are 15 days old but not yet 6 months old can work for up to 20 minutes in a day and be on set for a maximum of 2 hours. The older the youth the longer he or she may remain on set and can work within a given day.

What Kind of Jobs Can a Child Work?

Minors can work nearly every job so long as their employer abides by the hourly restrictions. Employers may have their own restriction on the age of employees and it is not considered age discrimination if the employer refuses to hire a minor employee. Some jobs, like bartending, require the employee to be at least 21 years old. Many jobs, like those that involve heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals, can also require that all employees be at least 18 years old. This can include jobs that involve driving a delivery truck and operating a forklift.

However, another glaring exception is pornography. California’s obscenity laws protect children from exploitation in materials that are deemed pornographic. It is illegal to possess, produce, transport, distribute, or sell pornographic materials that involve or depict minors under the age of eighteen.

Does the Youth Need Parental Permission?

Yes, in most cases. Except in limited circumstances and prior to starting work, the minor’s employer must obtain a valid permit to employ the child. The permit is signed off by the child’s school verifying that the youth has passed 7th grade, and it must be signed by the employer as well as the minor’s parent. If the youth is legally emancipated from his or her parents, he/she can obtain the work permit without parents’ permission.
 
Children who work in the entertainment business must obtain a different kind of work permit. The youth must have a permit to work, and the employers must have a permit to employ, both of which are issued by the Labor Commissioner.