The provisions in Federal and state child labor laws and regulations apply to youths under age 18 in most cases.
Child Labor Laws
Child labor law at the Federal level falls under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which also regulates overtime pay and the minimum wage for all eligible workers. (Click the latter link for the FLSA minimum-wage provisions for youths under age 20.)
In a nutshell, the FLSA child labor law provisions:
- Set the minimum "legal" work age at 14 for most types of employment
- Prohibit employing youths under 18 in dangerous jobs
- Limit the daily and weekly work hours that employers may schedule for employees under the age of 16
For more information about child labor work hour restrictions under the FLSA, see Work Hours for Minors - Child Labor.
Although relatively strict for the sake of children, the FLSA does allow child labor age exceptions for certain types of work.
For example, children of any age may baby-sit, deliver newspapers, perform as actors, work in their parents' businesses (except mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs), and perform minor chores around private homes; children younger than age 14 may work in agriculture, but only under certain conditions.
The FLSA sets the minimum standards in all states. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), all states have enacted child labor laws that include or expand the minimum provisions in the FLSA. Legally, state child labor laws may be more restrictive than the FLSA child labor law, but not less.
Consequently, child labor law provisions vary from state to state. Youths in each state are protected by whichever law at the Federal or state level affords them the most protection.
More about Child Labor Laws
The DOL enforces Federal child labor law and related rules under the FLSA. For more information about restrictions and exceptions, see the Child Labor Rules Advisor at the DOL Web site.
For summaries of selected types of state child labor laws, see Fair Labor Standards by the DOL. For more detailed information about a particular state's child labor law, the Web site of the relevant state labor department is likely a good place to start. See also State Labor Laws.