Child Labor

In addition to its minimum wage and overtime provisions, the Fair Labor Standards Act contains laws governing when an employer may or may not employ child. A child for purposes of these child labor laws is any individual under the age of 18. 29 US Code 203(l)

The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from engaging in any oppressive child labor practices in commerce, in the production of goods for commerce, in any enterprise engaged in commerce, or any enterprise engaged in the production of goods for commerce. 29 US Code 212(c) Oppressive child labor, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, is defined as the employment of any minor in any occupation for which he or she does not meet the minimum ages standards set forth in the Act. 29 CFR 570.1(b)


Different rules for different age groups of youth

Child labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act has historically set different rules for minors in three different age groups:

13 year olds and younger

Generally, employers are not permitted to employ children 13 years old and younger, although some limited exceptions may apply that permit such employment. For more information about the rules and restrictions on the employment of youth who are 13-year-olds and younger, visit FLSA Child Labor Exceptions

14 and 15 year olds

Employers may employ 14 and 15-year-olds if the youth are working in a permitted occupation; however, there are restrictions on the hours 14 and 15 years may work in a day and in a week. For more information about the rules and restrictions on the employment of 14 and 15-year-olds, visit 14 and 15-Year-Olds – FLSA Child Labor Laws

16 and 17 year olds

Employers may employ 16 and 17-year-olds in any occupation as long as the occupation has not been determined to be particularly hazardous or detrimental to their health or welfare. For more information about the rules and restrictions on the employment of 16 and 17-year-olds, visit 16 and 17-Year-Olds – FLSA Child Labor Laws


Age certificates

As a protection against child labor law claims, employers may insist that youth provide a valid age certificate issued by the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor. If an employer has a valid age certificate that indicates the employee is an appropriate age for the work performed, it is presumed that they are compliant with the child labor laws age restrictions. For more information about age certificates, visit Age Certificates – FLSA Child Labor Laws


Enforcement and fines

Individuals who are found to have willfully violated the child labor restriction of the Fair Labor Standards Act may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties. For more information about enforcement and fines related to child labor law violations, visit Enforcement and Fines – FLSA Child Labor Laws


State Child Labor Laws

In addition to federal child labor laws, each state has its own child labor laws that may vary from the federal requirements. Links to each state’s child labor laws are below.

AlabamaKentuckyNorth Dakota
AlaskaLouisianaOhio
ArizonaMaineOklahoma
ArkansasMarylandOregon
CaliforniaMassachusettsPennsylvania
ColoradoMichiganRhode Island
ConnecticutMinnesotaSouth Carolina
DelawareMississippiSouth Dakota
District of ColumbiaMissouriTennessee
FloridaMontanaTexas
GeorgiaNebraskaUtah
HawaiiNevadaVermont
IdahoNew HampshireVirginia
IllinoisNew JerseyWashington
IndianaNew MexicoWest Virginia
IowaNew YorkWisconsin
KansasNorth CarolinaWyoming

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