What Are the Federal Labor Laws for Minors?


Quick Answer

Under federal labor law, children between the ages of 14 and 15 must work outside school hours, for no longer than three hours on a school day, for no more than eight hours on a nonschool day and for no more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Children between the ages of 16 and 17 can work an unlimited number of hours in jobs not deemed hazardous.

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Full Answer

Lawmakers designed the youth provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act to protect children's health and educational opportunities, according to the Department of Labor. There are different standards for the agricultural industry, and children are allowed to work for their parents as long as the jobs aren't in mining or manufacturing or declared hazardous for children under the age of 18.

While 14- and 15-year-olds are generally covered together under federal labor law, the law does permit 15-year-olds to act as lifeguards at swimming pools or water amusement parks, while 14-year-olds are prohibited from this work, explains the Department of Labor. Children under the age of 14 can only work in jobs that are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as acting or newspaper delivery. When federal and state law differ regarding child labor, employers must follow the more restrictive of the two.

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