While child labor laws vary from state to state, there is a federal statute that overrides state laws.
For working minors between the ages of 14 and 15, the following rules apply:
Minors may work a maximum of:
- 3 Hours on a School Day
- 18 Hours in a School Week
- 8 Hours on a Non-School Day
- 40 Hours on a Non-School Week
Additionally, minors may only work from 7am to 7pm when school is in session. During the summer period, from June 1 through Labor Day, minors work days can be extended to no later than 9pm.
Reading between the lines, you see this prevents most young minors from being eligible for overtime hours or overtime pay.
Further, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minors may not be employed in hazardous sectors such as mining, manufacturing, or emergency services.
While the federal government does not require minors to furnish a permit prior to working, most individual states do. Usually, to obtain a work permit the minor must have parental permission and a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Requirements vary from state to state.
For information about your particular state, you may want to contact your Department of Labor.
Once your teen turns 16 years old, she is no longer required to abide by the rules of the FLSA. She can then work as many hours, days, or shifts as desired. This can be a great opportunity to begin saving for college or a car, especially if your teenager is motivated to work overtime during the summer months.
Additionally, youth who are enrolled in special programs may be eligible to work up to 23 hours in a school week. These Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs (WECEP) provide more than pocket money to teens who are curious about various industries. They are also used as a dropout deterrent for at-risk youth. Teenagers who have all but given up on their academic careers are introduced to real-world workplaces that inspire them to continue a path toward success.
Teens Working in Entertainment
Of course, the most notable exception will be children working in the entertainment industry. Those young actors, singers, and dancers are obviously not putting in an 18-hour work week. Rules, like much of life, are different for those in the entertainment industry. If your teen is working in entertainment, there are still some restrictions. Those restrictions vary greatly from state to state.
Here is a chart detailing Child Entertainment Labor Provisions by individual states, prepared by the Division of Communications, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor.