The federal government outlines the rights and protection of employed minors in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Each state also has its own laws regarding child labor.

Parents or employers may often follow the child labor laws that afford greater protection and benefits to the minor. Labor laws for minors can cover a variety of employment issues, including:

  • What types of jobs minors can and cannot perform;
  • How many hours minors can work; and/or
  • What pay rate minors can or should be paid for their work.

For instance, some jobs might be considered too hazardous or too dangerous for minors to perform. Both federal and state laws may restrict what types of jobs minors can perform, especially if there is an element of safety or health risks involved.

Who is Considered a Minor and How Many Hours Can They Work?

A minor is a person who is under the age of 18 years old. The federal government allows minors who are at least 14 years old to work. However, it does limit the hours that minors under the age of 16 years old can work. Minors who are 14 to 15 years old are limited to working:

  • 18 hours per week when they are attending school;
  • Three hours in one school day;
  • Eight hours on days they do not attend school;
  • 40 hours per week on non-school weeks; and
  • From the hours of 7 am to 7 pm for most of the year and 7 am to 9 pm from June 1 to Labor Day.

Federal law does not limit the work hours of minors who are 16 to 18 years old.

How Much Money Can Minors Earn?

The federal minimum wage for minors is different from the federal minimum wage for adults for the first consecutive 90 days. The youth minimum wage is $4.25 per hour for that time period.

After the 90 days, minors receive $7.25 per hour. This law applies to anyone under the age of 20 years old.

Are There Any Jobs That a Minor Cannot Work?

At any age, a minor can work for his parents unless working conditions are hazardous or in manufacturing or mining. Minors who are 16 to 17 years old cannot work in hazardous environments.

As mentioned, some jobs may be restricted due to unsafe working conditions or safety/health hazards. While laws may vary from place to place, the following types of jobs are usually regulated and restricted in some way when it comes to minors:

  • Occupations involving explosives;
  • Various mining and excavation jobs, especially coal mining;
  • Jobs that involve exposure to radioactive substances;
  • Meat processing and slaughtering jobs;
  • Jobs that involve the use of circular saws, band saws, and other types of saws;
  • Some roofing jobs (especially if it involves exposure to high heat);
  • Operations involving wrecking or demolition; and
  • Various other types of jobs with similar levels of danger.

Employers that knowingly hire minors in jobs that are restricted may face various legal consequences. These can include fines and other penalties. They may also face fines if they violate federal or state child labor laws with regards to hours work, pay rates, and other employment issues.

Should I Consult an Attorney before Hiring a Minor to Work for Me?

Labor laws for minors are complicated because there are duties and jobs minors can and cannot perform. Before hiring or allowing a minor to work for you, contact a local labor lawyer. They can help you figure out if the position would violate your state and/or federal labor laws, as well as defend you if you are facing charges for violating the child labor laws.