Where Can You Legally Work at the Age of 15?


Quick Answer

Under federal law, minors can work part-time in non-hazardous jobs starting at the age of 14. However, each state also has its own laws relating to the employment of minors, which may restrict the type of work, number of hours or both.

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Full Answer

The Fair Labor Standards Act generally prohibits the employment of a minor in work declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor, such as work involving excavation and the operation of many types of power-driven equipment. There are exceptions, however, which include working in agriculture, operating a motor vehicle or being employed by a parent, all of which have special rules.

The FLSA, which sets wages, hours worked and safety requirements for minors, applies to only certain employers and certain categories of employment. To see whether the statute applies, refer to the online tool "Am I Covered by the FLSA" on the Department of Labor's website. All other employment is governed by state law. In cases where state and federal law overlap, the law more protective of workers applies. For example, some states require parental permission for minors to seek employment, while some, such as Connecticut, do not. Some states, including North Dakota, prohibit minors under 16 from many types of work, including cooking, baking, warehouse work, door-to-door sales and many other kinds of jobs, while other states, such as South Dakota, are not nearly as restrictive. For information on employment restrictions in a specific state, visit the website of that state's labor office.

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