Teen worker laws, also known as child labor laws, vary by state, but every state has them. Why? To protect our youth. Sometimes their ambition and an employer’s need for cheap labor can lead to a negative result, so these laws exist.
It’s no surprise that after the past year where so many workers quit or were laid off, and are now enjoying their unemployment benefits, businesses need to fill open positions. The news recently reported that we are in a hiring boom, an unprecedented number of jobs need to be filled. Who has been filing them? Teens. Why? They have the time and enjoy the paycheck. So now seems like a great time to review the child labor laws, generally.
The restrictions under the law cover two areas: (1) The jobs they may fill, and (2) The numbers and hours they may work.
- They cannot work in what is considered a hazardous occupation. This gets into the different age ranges and industries, but let’s turn our attention to the more likely relevant prong - hours.
- First it’s important to understand that during holidays and summer breaks, all bets are off, generally speaking there are no restrictions on the numbers and hours they may work.
- For teens 14 and 15, when in school, they may not work before 7 AM or after 7 PM when a school day follows. They cannot work more than 15 hours a week. They cannot work more than 6 consecutive days a week. They cannot work more than 3 hours a school day, unless there is no school the following day.
- For teens 16 and 17, their restrictions are similar, but the numbers change slightly. They may not work before 6:30 AM or after 11 PM when a school day follows. They cannot work more than 30 hours a week (double that of a 14 and 15 year old). They cannot work more than 6 consecutive days a week. They cannot work more than 8 hours a school day, unless there is no school the following day.
- Lastly, all teens who work for a period of 4+ hours in a sitting must be given a 30-minute meal break.