Child Labor Laws for the United States
General Minimum Age
- The minimum age in modern labor laws in the U.S. vary depending on certain factors such as whether it is agricultural work, if the type of work is considered hazardous, and whether the youth is working with a parent or has parental consent. For general non-agricultural work, the minimum age is 14 years old with exceptions such as newspaper delivery, performing in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions, and working for parents in a family business. Additionally, no one under the age of 18 can be asked to work in any hazardous conditions.
Minimum Age for Agricultural Work
- Children as young as 10 years old can work in certain farm jobs with parental consent. Children 12 and over can work in most other agricultural jobs also with parental consent. Those 14 years of age and older do not require parental consent for agricultural work, but must be 16 years old to work in any jobs deemed hazardous.
- For agricultural employment, there are no limits on the maximum hours a child can work but children are prohibited from working during regular school hours. In non-agricultural work, children are limited to three hours per day and 18 hours per week during the school session. During periods when school is not in session, they are limited to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.
Other Time Considerations
- Minors must be given a 30-minute break on workdays of 5 hours or more. Between Labor Day and May 31, all work done in non-agricultural sectors must occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. the rest of the year. Street vendors are an exception, however, and may work between 4 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Labor Day to June 1, and from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. the rest of the year. Child models may only work between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and they may not work in excess of 3 hours in a given day day or more than 12 hours in one month. Agricultural employees from 12 to 16 years-old may work between 5 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Labor Day to June 1, and between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. the rest of the year.
- Employers are only required to pay $4.25 to any employee who is under the age of 20 for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of their employment. After 90 consecutive days of employment, they are required to pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25.