Child Labor Laws: What You Need to Know

Get informed about child labor laws to protect your rights as a working teen.


At TeenJobster, we care about your well-being and ensuring that you are aware of the child labor laws in place to protect you. As a young worker, it is important to understand the legal framework surrounding employment to avoid being taken advantage of. In this article, we will provide an overview of the child labor laws and discuss key points you should be aware of.

What Are Child Labor Laws?

Child labor laws are regulations set by the government to protect minors from exploitation and ensure they have a safe and healthy work environment. These laws cover areas such as working hours, permissible job types, minimum wage, and workplace safety. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary federal legislation governing child labor.

Age Restrictions and Permissible Jobs

Child labor laws set age limits for employment, which vary depending on the type of job. In general, the minimum age for most non-agricultural jobs is 14, while hazardous jobs have a minimum age requirement of 18. For agricultural jobs, children as young as 12 can work with parental consent, and there is no minimum age for children working on their family’s farm.

Working Hours and Breaks

Child labor laws also regulate the number of hours a minor can work per week and per day. For example, during the school year, 14- and 15-year-olds can work up to 3 hours per day on school days, 8 hours per day on non-school days, and a maximum of 18 hours per week. During the summer, the allowed working hours increase. Additionally, these laws mandate meal and rest breaks for minors.

Minimum Wage and Overtime

Minors are entitled to the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. However, some states have higher minimum wage rates, in which case the higher rate applies. In general, minors are also eligible for overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a week. There are some exceptions, so it is important to research the laws specific to your state.

Workplace Safety

Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, including minors. This includes proper training, access to safety equipment, and compliance with federal and state safety regulations. If you believe your workplace is unsafe or that your employer is violating child labor laws, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor.

Work Permits and Documentation

Some states require minors to obtain a work permit before starting a job. Work permits are typically issued by your school or the state’s labor department, and you may need to provide proof of age, parental consent, and a potential employer’s information. Be sure to check your state’s requirements to ensure you have the necessary documentation before starting work.

State-Specific Laws

It’s essential to understand that child labor laws can vary from state to state. While the FLSA provides a federal framework, individual states may have additional regulations in place to protect young workers. Make sure to research your state’s specific laws and guidelines to ensure you are well-informed and protected in your work environment.

Know Your Rights

As a working teen, it’s important to know your rights and understand the child labor laws that protect you. Stay informed, ask questions, and don’t hesitate to speak up if you believe your rights are being violated. Your safety, well-being, and future success are our top priorities here at TeenJobster.