What Are Some of the Major U.S. Labor Laws Regarding Children?


Quick Answer

The Fair Labor Standards Act governs child labor laws in the United States, states the U.S. Department of Labor. Its provisions set age limitations for youth employment and prohibit children from working in certain hazardous occupations.

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Full Answer

The minimum age for employment in the United States is 14 years old, according to the Department of Labor. However, the agency lists several jobs that children under the age of 14 can perform, including newspaper delivery, casual babysitting, acting and singing. They may also work in businesses owned by their parents, as long as the work does not entail manufacturing or potentially hazardous responsibilities.

The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that children aged 14 and 15 only work during non-school hours, says the Department of Labor. It limits them to 18 hours each week, with only three hours of work each school day. When school is not in session, they may work up to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.

Youth over 17 years old can work an unlimited number of hours in any job that has not been declared hazardous, states the Department of Labor. The U.S. Secretary of Labor publishes of a list of hazardous jobs, which includes coal mining, manufacturing explosives, demolition jobs, and roofing. For agricultural jobs, the list includes the operation of certain agricultural machinery, such as corn huskers and potato diggers.

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