Texas child labor laws regulate the employment of youth in the state of Texas. These laws dictate the ages and the times as well as the types of work they may perform.
Youth who are 16 and 17 years old may work in a broad range of jobs but cannot work in those jobs that have been explicitly deemed to be too hazardous. The details of Texas child labor laws are discussed below.
Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may work in a broader range of jobs but are significantly limited in the number of hours per day and per week they may work, especially when school is in session.
Generally, speaking children 13 years old or younger may not work in Texas, except in some limited situations.
- Definition of child
- Minimum working age
- Hours of work for 14 and 15 year olds
- Certificate of age
- Hardship waiver
- Hazardous occupations
- Sales solicitation occupations
- Operation of motor vehicles for certain commercial purposes
- Sexually oriented businesses
- Child actors
- Enforcement and penalties
Definition of child
A child for purposes of Texas child labor laws is any individual under 18 years of age. TX Code 51.002(1)
Minimum working age
Unless otherwise exempt or excepted, Texas child labor laws prohibit employers from employing youth under the age of 14.
The following children are exempt from Texas child labor laws restrictions:
- a child who:
- works in a nonhazardous occupation;
- works under the direct supervision of the child’s parent or adult who has custody of the child; and
- work for a business or enterprise owned or operated by the parent or custodian.
- a child who is 11 years old or older who delivers newspapers to consumers
- a child who is 16 years old or older who directly sells newspapers to the general public
- a child who participates in a school-supervised and school-administered work-study program approved by the Texas Workforce Commission
- a child working in agriculture during periods of time when the child is not required to be attending school
- a child working in a rehabilitation program supervised by a county judge
- a child working in nonhazardous, casual employment that will not endanger the safety, health, or well-being of the child and to which a parent or custodian of the child has given consent
Agriculture work covered by Texas child labor laws restrictions include producing crops or livestock; cultivating and tilling soil; producing, cultivating, growing, and harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodity; dairying; and raising livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals, or poultry. TX Code 51.003(v)
Hours of work for 14 and 15 year olds
Under Texas child labor laws, employers may employ 14 and 15-year-olds for no more than:
- 8 hours in one workday, or
- 48 hours in one workweek
Employers may not employ 14 and 15-year-olds during the following hours unless a hardship waiver has been granted by the Texas Workforce Commission:
- between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on any day that is followed by a school day, or
- between midnight and 5 a.m. on any day that is not followed by a school day
- between midnight and 5 a.m. on any day school is recessed for the summer, so long as the employee is not enrolled summer school
Certificate of age
Under Texas child labor laws, a child 14 years of age or older may submit an application to the Texas Workforce Commission for a certificate of age. TX Code 51.022(a) The certificate of age states the child’s date of birth and may be used by employers who rely on the certificate in good faith as a defense to a claim that they violated Texas’s child labor laws. TX Code 51.022(a); TX Code 51.032 To obtain a certificate of age, a child must submit the following:
- a completed form provided by the Texas Workforce Commission
- a recent paragraph approximately 1 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches, showing a full head shot of the applicant (photo may be color or black and white)
- proof of age, which may be established by any of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- baptismal certificate showing the date of birth;
- life insurance policy insuring the life of the child reflecting the date of birth;
- passport or certificate of arrival in the US issued not more than one year prior to the date of the application for a certificate; or
- the school record or the school-census record of the age of the child, together with the sworn statement of a parent, guardian, or person having custody of the child as to the age of the child and also a certificate signed by a physician specifying his opinion as to the age of the child, and the height, weight, and other facts relating to development upon which his opinion concerning age is based.
TX Admin. Code 817.5(a) A certificate of age is effective from the date it is issued until the child turns 18. Certificates do not need to be renewed, but if a certificate is lost, a new application must be submitted. TX Admin. Code 817.5(b)
In order to obtain a hardship waiver from the work hours limitation for youth 14 and 15-year-olds under Texas child labor laws, the child must submit an application for waiver and an application for a certificate of age at the same time. The hardship application must contain the following:
- full details of the proposed employment
- full details of the proposed hours to be worked
- a written statement explaining that it is necessary for the child to work to support him or herself or immediate family, including supporting information
- a written statement from the principal of the school where the child is enrolled regarding the advisability of allowing the child to work the hours requested
- a written statement from the prospective employer containing the following:
- the child will be employed,
- full details of the work that will be performed,
- the child’s rate of pay,
- the hours the child will work, and
- how long the child’s employment is expected to last.
- any other information the child would like to include to support the application
TX Admin. Code 817.22(a)-(c) After an application has been submitted, the Texas Workforce Commission may grant or deny the application or may ask for additional information. It may also schedule a conference to review the merits of the application with the petitioning party, after which a decision on the application will be made. There is no established appeals process to challenge the Texas Workforce Commission’s decision to deny an application. TX Admin. Code 817.22(e)-(g) All approved waivers are valid from on year, unless granted for less time, and may be extended by the Texas Workforce Commission. TX Admin. Code 817.22(d)
14 and 15 year olds
Texas child labor laws prohibit employers from employing children in occupations that are hazardous and may endanger the safety, health, or well-being of the child. Hazardous occupations for 14 and 15-year-olds include all occupations designated as hazardous for 16 and 17-year-olds by the US Department of Labor in federal regulation FLSA Child Labor Laws – 16 and 17 Year Olds Texas has also adopted the federal regulation designating the occupation that may be performed by 14 and 15-year-olds, see FLSA Child Labor Laws – 14 and 15-Year-Olds. TX Admin. Code 817.21
16 and 17 year olds
Texas has adopted the federal regulations set forth by the US Department of Labor designating the occupations 16 and 17-year-olds may or may not perform, see FLSA Child Labor Laws – 16 and 17-Year-Olds. TX Admin. Code 817.23
Texas child labor laws have provisions specifically directed to youth working in sales solicitation occupations. For more information, visit our Texas Child Labor Laws – Sales Solicitation Occupations page.
Operation of motor vehicles for certain commercial purposes
Under Texas child labor laws, an employer may employ a child in occupations that require operating motor vehicles for commercial purposes if:
- the child has a valid driver’s license under Chapter 521 of Texas’s Transportation Code
- the child is not required to obtain a commercial driver’s license under Chapter 522 of Texas’s Transportation Code
- the child performs the job duties:
- under the direct supervision of the child’s parent or guardian; and
- for a business owned or operated by the child’s parent or guardian
- the child operates a vehicle that has no more than two axles and does not exceed a gross vehicle weight rating of 15,000 pounds
Sexually oriented businesses
Texas child labor laws prohibit employers from employing children under the age of 18 in any sexually oriented business, as defined by TX Code 243.002. Sexually oriented businesses must maintain at their businesses records containing copies of valid proofs of identification for each employee and independent contractor working at their businesses. TX Code 51.016
Texas child labor laws have provisions specifically directed to child actors. For more information, visit our Texas Child Labor laws – Child Actors page.
Enforcement and penalties
Employers who violate Texas child labor laws commit a Class B misdemeanor unless they employ a child in a hazardous occupation, in which case the employer commits a Class A misdemeanor. TX Code 51.031 Employers may also be subject to administrative penalties which may be up to $10,000 per violation. Criteria used to determine the amount of the administrative penalty include:
- the seriousness of the violation, including the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of any prohibited acts;
- the history of previous violations;
- the amount necessary to deter future violations;
- efforts to correct the violation; and
- any other matter that justice may require.