ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Understanding Child Labor Laws: A Parent Guide

Updated on September 29, 2012
Federal labor laws protect youth
Federal labor laws protect youth | Source

Understanding child labor laws is important for every parent. It can be a consuming process to know age requirements, what jobs are right for your kid, and, especially, what they will be made to do. But it can never be a hassle to keep your child safe.

For this reason were child labor provisions created as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to ensure that work does not jeopardize a youth’s health, well-being, or education.

Most minors generally acquire a job for personal money or to assist at home. In today’s economy, although jobs are tough to find, the strain on the home is requiring youth to make money just to cover themselves and so keep the home afloat. Nevertheless, parents need to be scrutinizing of their children’s first jobs.

Occupational Health Hazards for Youth

Federal labor laws allow youth of any age to work for parent-owned businesses if the work is not deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor or is in the mining or manufacture sectors. Also, minors can deliver newspapers and harvest evergreens. Youth 18 years or older are no longer subject to child labor provisions.

Very many minors take restaurant jobs, which can be very dangerous. FLSA has specific rules concerning this. Youth 16-17 are permitted to do most things in restaurant kitchens but are prohibited from using hazardous machinery, like power-driven meat processing and bakery machines and commercial mixers. In fact, they’re essentially not permitted to touch these machines or any part of them, to setup, adjust, or clean.

Youth 16-17 are able to use lightweight, small, or portable machinery that is comparable to models intended for home use. If working in the pizza industry, they may only operate dough rollers (that have designed safeguards for the hands and clothing)—but nothing more. They may not make time-sensitive deliveries or drive at night, on any job.

Youth 14-15 may perform cooking duties but never over an open flame and only with deep fryers that use automatic basket lowering/raising devices. They may never cook with NEICO broilers, high speed ovens, rapid broilers, fryolators, rotisseries, pressure cookers, or over open flames. No part of the baking process (not even weighing ingredients) can be performed.

This group is allowed to prepare and serve food and beverages, and so is the use of necessary equipment for drinks, popcorn, coffee, and so on. They may not touch or operate any hazardous equipment. They may clean surfaces and non-hazardous equipment if temperatures are below 100-degrees. This also includes the disposal of hot grease (not to exceed 100-degrees.) They may retrieve items from inside a freezer or cooler but never perform lingering work there.

Federal Child Labor Standards at Age Glance

Age 18
Ages 16-17
Ages 14-15
14 and Younger
Subject to FLSA?
Can work mining or manufacture?
Can work a hazardous occupation?
Can drive or help on vehicle on a public road?
Limited. No time-sensitive or PM deliveries
Can bake or cook?
Very limited
Can prepare or serve food?
If parent-owned business
Can filter or dispose hot oil?
100-degrees or less
Can work in freezers and coolers?
Retrieval only
Retrieval only in parent's business
Federal Child Labor Provisions exist for youth under the Fair Labor Standards Act
Federal Child Labor Provisions exist for youth under the Fair Labor Standards Act | Source

Did You Know?

Restaurants and food businesses with annual gross sales from one or more establishments totaling at least $500,000 are subject to FLSA laws.

Legal Working Hours and Wage Laws

FLSA rules extend to the hours minors can work. For instance, youth 16-17 can work unlimited hours on any non-hazardous job. But rules become stringent for 14-15 year-olds. They may work not more than 3 hours per school day, 18 hours in a school week, 8 hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours in a non-school week. Their work may not begin before 7 a.m. or end after 7 p.m., except from June 1 to Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.

FLSA allows employers to pay a youth minimum wage of (not less than) $4.25 per hour to employees under 20 years of age during their first 90 consecutive days after initial employment. On jobs where tips are made and a base rate of $2.13 per hour is earned, any overtime made is to be paid at 1½ the general minimum wage and not the base rate ($2.13).

Parents should also know that uniforms that are required by employers are considered a business expense of the employer. Yet employers are permitted to lay the expense on the employee. Should this occur the cost may not reduce one’s wage below the minimum wage or cut into any overtime compensation.

This article has not been exhaustive but has covered what probably applies to a majority of youth employment. I hope that you now see why understanding child labor laws is extremely important for parents and youth.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      6 years ago from Danville, VA

      Industriousness is a great characteristic to have at so young an age. A strong work ethic will take one far. I like the family-owned aspect of the government's regulations. It makes sense. Thanks for reading, Mom Kat!

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 

      6 years ago from USA

      My 14 year old daughter is just itching to go out and start working... when she visits her dad, she gets to work at the family owned coffee shop/gift store folding shirts & stocking the front shelves with light merchandise. She keeps asking when she can get a job here. I tell her she has to wait, we don't have a family owned shop to work at. Bless her heart, she's such an over achiever!

      Great info ~ up, interesting, & useful!

    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      6 years ago from Danville, VA

      Safety is indeed the issue. This information concerns non-agricultural occupation and I have yet to examine what the government rules about agricultural work. I suppose it matters greatly in the case of youth of any age being able to work for parents. There's a great YouTube on this and the controversy concerning what kids should and should not be allowed to do. I suppose the rule permits parents to exercise foresight about what their children are ably responsible to do, but you have to question whether there should be stipulations still to protect children's welfare. How would you handle an accident that killed your child that was 9 or 10? Sorry for the ramble, but, like you said, there are things that can be overlooked--and our children's safety always matters.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is helpful information for those who are about to have children entering the work place. There are a number of things to consider which may not even come to mind. Safety which you have suggested is the most important issue. Being assured before your child does secure a job that safety guidelines will be adhered to is very importat. Thank you for sharing this with us.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)