The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 sets standards for youth employment. The FLSA is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, record-keeping and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state and local governments. If you are under 18 years old and want to work, the FLSA child labor regulations will apply to you.
What Are the Minimum Age Standards for Nonagricultural Employment?
• Once you reach 18 years of age, you are no longer subject to the federal youth employment provisions.
• If you are 14 or 15 years old, you can work outside school hours in various nonmanufacturing and nonhazardous jobs for limited periods of time and under
specified conditions. Any work not specifically permitted is prohibited.
• If you are under 14 years old, you cannot work in nonagricultural occupations covered by the FLSA. You can only do work exempt from the FLSA (such as delivering
newspapers and acting).
• Youths ages 16 and 17 can work for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
• Children of any age are generally permitted to work for businesses entirely owned by their parents, except those under age 16, who cannot be employed in mining or manufacturing. No one under 18 can be employed in any occupation the Secretary of Labor has declared to be hazardous.
Ages 14 and 15: Hours of Work for Youth Ages 14 and 15
• No more than three hours on a school day when school is in session
• No more than eight hours on a nonschool day when school is not in session
• No more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session
• No more than 40 hours during a week when school is not in session
• Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except between June 1 and Labor Day, when the evening hour limit extends to 9 p.m. There are some exceptions for 14- and 15-year-old students enrolled in work experience and career exploration programs (WECEPs) and work-study programs (WSPs).
Permitted Occupations for Youth Ages 14 and 15
• You can work in most office jobs and retail and food service establishments.
• You can work in occupations such as bagging groceries, office work and stocking shelves.
• You can perform limited kitchen work involving the preparation of food and beverages.
• Properly certified 15-year-olds can work as lifeguards and swimming instructors at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks.
Prohibited Occupations for Youth Ages 14 and 15
• You cannot work in any of the jobs prohibited by the Hazardous Occupations Orders or in most occupations involving transportation, construction, warehousing,
communications and public utilities.
• You cannot work in processing or mining; in any workroom or workplace where goods are manufactured or processed; or in freezers or meat coolers.
• You cannot operate or tend any power-driven machinery except office machines.
• You cannot perform any baking operations.
• You cannot perform youth peddling, sign-waving or door-to-door sales activities. You cannot work from ladders, scaffolds or their substitutes.
Minors Under 18
Minors under 18 are prohibited from working in the following occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor:
1. Working in most jobs where explosives are manufactured or stored
2. Driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper on motor vehicles; 17-year-olds can drive under strictly limited conditions
3. Coal mining occupations
4. Forest firefighting, forest fire prevention, timber tract, forestry service professions and occupations in logging and sawmilling
5. Operating most power-driven woodworking machines
6. Working in occupations where minors are exposed to radioactive materials
7. Operating, riding on and assisting in the operation of most power-driven hoisting apparatus
8. Operating certain power-driven metalworking machines
9. Mining at metal mines, quarries, aggregate mines and similar sites
10. Operating power-driven meat processing machines, such as meat slicers, and cleaning the equipment; working most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering and packing plants
11. Operating power-driven bakery machines
12. Operating all balers, compactors and power-driven paper-products machines. Youths ages 16 and 17 can load but not operate or unload certain scrap paper balers and paper box compactors under very specific guidelines
13. Manufacturing brick, tile and related products
14. Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers and abrasive cutting discs
15. Wrecking, demolition and ship-breaking work
16. Roofing operations and work performed on or about a roof
17. Trenching and excavation operations
Note: The regulations provide a limited exemption from hazardous occupations 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 17 for apprentices and
student-learners who are at least 16 years of age and enrolled in approved programs.
Provided by: U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
1-866-487-9243 | TTY: 1-877-889-5627