Things You Should Know about Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. Child labor laws are applicable to employees under the age of 18. These laws specify and define various aspects of employment such as payment of wages, number of workable hours, and safe and healthful workplace environments. Compliance with, child labor laws is mandatory for employers. In this article, we will discuss things you should know about these laws.

Child labor laws
The objective of child labor laws is to protect the rights of working individuals under the age of 18. These laws create standards for employers to comply with so that the child workers are treated without bias.

Restricted jobs

For children under 14-15 years

• Rules under child labor laws do not permit children to be employed in certain types of jobs. For example, they are not permitted to be employed in jobs operating motor vehicles, loading/unloading trucks, or working as public messenger services.

• Working in the manufacturing or mining industries or in any hazardous occupation is prohibited.

16-17 years

• Children in this age group cannot be employed in hazardous occupations.

• Laws prohibit children in this age group from working in jobs that require excavation operation, roofing operation and all work on or about a roof, operation of power driven circular saws, band saws, abrasive cutting discs and wood chippers, balers, or compactors, meat and poultry slaughtering, packing/processing, power driven metal-forming, pouncing and shearing machines and power-driven woodworking machines, operating motor vehicles and forest firefighting.

Hours and days of work permitted

Child labor laws specify the number of hours that are permitted for employment of children. The number depends on the age group and type of the industry.

14-15 Years

• School going children in the age group 14-15 are permitted up to 18 hours a week (in work that is permissible under the laws) when school is in session, and up to 40 hours when school is not in session.

• Further, meals periods and breaks are regulated by state law but generally minor workers are not permitted to work more than five hours continuously – without a break of half an hour.

• When school is in session, a child can work not longer than three hours a school day.

• When school is not in session because of holidays, child can work no longer than eight hours.

• Work is prohibited before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except from June 1st through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m.

16-17 years

• For children aged 16-17 years, there is no limit on the number of workable hours a week. However, the job must not be declared as hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

Exempted children

There are certain exemptions under child labor laws. These exemptions apply in terms of the number of workable hours and age restrictions.

• Minors (below 16 years old)enrolled in approved school administered and school supervised programs may be able to work beyond the minimum workable hours threshold.

• Minors (below 16 years old) working in vocations other than an agriculture business/company (declared non-hazardous) solely owned by their parents are exempted from child labor rules. Such children can work anytime around the clock and for any number of hours.


• In certain states, a minor looking for employment must get a work certificate (work permit).

• Such work permit must be issued by an accredited high school or Department of Labor, depending on state child labor provisions.

• The employer must obtain the appropriate work authorization such as a work permit from the youth worker.

Minimum wage

• Under federal labor laws, working minors must be paid at least the federal minimum wage per hour. However, if the state minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, employers must pay the state minimum wage, which differs from state to state.

• Employers are also permitted to pay youth under the age of 20 $4.25 per hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment.

Penalties for violation of the laws

• Non-compliance of any type constitutes a violation of the laws and attracts liability in the form of heavy fines, penalties and possible criminal prosecution.

• The amount of fine per violation differs from state to state. For example, the amount in Florida is $2,500, whereas in California, it is at $10,000. And, under the FLSA, the penalty is $11,000.

Child labor laws are important for employers, especially those employing children in the workplace. For accurate compliance with these laws, make sure to hire reputable service providers who could make the job easy and simple.