Child Labor Law Briefly Explained
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a minor under the age of 18 who wants to take it upon themselves to work hard and earn money for the things they want. It teaches personal accountability and gives them first-hand experience of what the real world and the working environment are like. However, there are laws in place that restrict who, how, when, and for how long children can work.
The State of California has stricter child labor laws than many other states in the country, likely inspired by the large agricultural industry here. These regulations serve essentially to make sure that children are not forced into an unsafe environment, and that working does not interfere with prioritized aspects of their young lives, such as school. These laws start with children as young as 6 years old.
When Are Children Old Enough to Work?
The earliest age a child is allowed to start going door-to-door and perform household duties for pay is 6 years old. These tasks can include things like raking leaves, mowing lawns, babysitting, and they do not require a work permit. In fact, children under 12 years old cannot be officially permitted to work unless in the entertainment industry and by the overseeing Labor Commissioner.
How Much Can My Child Work?
Most minor workers with regular jobs are of the ages 16 and 17. Children younger than this can work in certain labor areas if they have a worker’s permit or are a high school graduate or equivalent.
The main stipulations of 16 and 17 year-old employees are as follows:
- They can only work 4 hours a day when school is in session
- They can only work between 5am and 10pm, as late as 12:30am with no school the next day
- They must be paid at least minimum wage established by the Industrial Welfare Commission
- They can only work a maximum of 8 hours on a non-school day, 40 hours a week
- They cannot be employed in a hazardous work environment handling explosive materials or power-driven processes. This includes gas stations and most manufacturing establishments.
If your child is being asked or forced to work under these conditions, longer than they should, or for less pay than they are owed, their employer is likely liable for endangering your child.
Call our Harvard-educated employment lawyer, Alan Burton Newman, at (310) 986-2792 if you feel you and your child are owned compensation for exploitation and endangerment in the workplace.