Rules for Hiring Minors

As the school year draws to a close, thousands of young people will be entering the job market in search of summer employment. If you hire students who are under 18 years old, the Fair Labor Standards Act restricts the type of work they can perform. To avoid violating federal restrictions regarding the employment of minors, keep these guidelines in mind.For 16- and 17-Year Olds:

Youths aged 16 and 17 may work at any time for unlimited hours in all jobs not declared hazardous. Hazardous occupations include: working with explosives and radioactive materials; operating certain power-driven woodworking, metal-working, bakery, meat processing, and paper products machinery; operating various types of power-driven saws and guillotine shears; operating most power-driven hoisting apparatuses such as non-automatic elevators, fork lifts, and crane; most jobs in slaughtering and meat packing establishments; most jobs in excavation, logging, and saw milling; roofing, wrecking, demolitions, and ship-breaking; operating motor vehicles or working as outside helpers on motor vehicles; and most jobs in the manufacturing of bricks, tiles, and similar products.Exemptions from some of the hazardous occupation orders apply for apprentices and students in vocational education programs.

For 14- and 15-Year Olds:

Youths aged 14 and 15 may work in various jobs outside school hours under the following conditions: no more than three hours on a school day with a limit of 18 hours in a school week; no more than eight hours on a non-school day with a limit of 40 hours in a non-school week; and not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.Workers 14 and 15 years of age may be employed in a variety of jobs: office work; various food service jobs, including cashiering, waiting on tables, busing tables, washing dishes, and preparing salads and other food (although cooking is permitted only at snack bars, soda fountains, lunch counters, and cafeteria serving counters); sales work and other jobs in retail stores; errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle, and public transportation; dispensing gas and oil and performing courtesy services in gas stations; and most cleanup work.

Minors who are 14 and 15 years old may not work in the following jobs: manufacturing, mining, most procession work, and all occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor; operating or tending most power-driven machinery; public messenger service; and work connected with warehousing, storage, transportation, communications, public utilities, and constructions (except office and sales jobs when not performed on transportation vehicles or on construction sites).

Youths Under 14 Years Old:

Youths under 14 may work only if their jobs are exempt from the child labor standards or not covered by the FLSA. Exempt work includes: delivery of newspapers to consumers; performing in theatrical, motion picture, or broadcast productions; and work in a business owned by parents of the minors, except in manufacturing or hazardous occupations.

Age Certificates:

Federal law does not require age certificates or work permits. However, you may protect yourself from unintentional violations of the child labor laws by keeping on file an age certificate or work permit for each minor employed. Certificates and permits issued under most state laws are acceptable for this purpose.


All states have child labor laws, and when both state and federal child labor laws apply, the law setting the more stringent standard must be observed. For more information, get in touch with the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration.

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Tim Dimoff, Speaker, National Expert, Author: