With summer right around the corner, many businesses are looking to hire from local high schools. Whether you are hiring minors as seasonal or full-time employees, there are key laws that employers should be familiar with. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), California Labor Code, California Wage Orders, and California Education Code regulate child labor.
Who is a minor?
Anyone under the age of 18 who is required to attend school and anyone under the age of six is considered a minor.
What is a work permit and who needs one?
All minors who have not graduated high school or been awarded a certificate of proficiency, must have a valid work permit. This is true even if it is summer or the minor is only hired seasonally. The first thing an employer should do when they hire a minor is ensure that they have a valid work permit. The minor obtains a work permit through their school and provides it to their employer. It is important to remember that work permits expire five days into the opening of the following school year and a permit still needs to be obtained even if it is summer. The permit should be maintained in the minors personnel file and needs to be obtained before the minor does any work for the employer.
Statement Of Intent To Employ A Minor And Request For A Work Permit–Certificate Of Age CDW Form B1-1: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlseformB1-1.pdf
Permit To Employ And Work CDE Form B1-4: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlseformB1-4.pdf
What hours can a minor work?
The number of hours and time a minor can work depends on whether school is in session and the minors age. Generally, minors must have completed 7th grade to work while school is in session. Minors who are enrolled in remote or hybrid schools are still subject to the requirements below.
Ages 16 and 17:
Exception: if the minor is enrolled in work experience or cooperative vocational program approved by the California Department of Education, they can work until 12:30am any day and can work up to 8 hours on a school day
If school in session, they can work up to 4 hours on school days and 8 hours on a non-school day and on days before non-school days. If school is not in session, they can work up to 8 hours a total. They can work up to 48 hours per week and can work between the hours of 5am and 10pm. On evenings before non-school days, they may work until 12:30am.
Ages 14 and 15:
Exception: if the minor is enrolled in work experience or cooperative vocational program approved by the California Department of Education, they can work during school hours and up to 23 hours per week.
If school is in session, they can work up to 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on a non-school day. They can work up to 18 hours per week and can work between the hours of 7am and 7pm. Between June 1 and Labor Day, they can work until 9pm.
Ages 12 and 13:
They can only work during school holidays and weekends – never on school days. They can work up to 8 hours per day, and up to 40 hours per week. Like 14- and 15-year-olds, they can work between the hours of 7am and 7pm, and between June 1 and Labor Day, they can work until 9pm.
What duties can minors perform?
Job restrictions vary by industry and age of the minor. Generally, minors cannot work in any occupation that is considered hazardous.
Some examples include:
- 14- and 15-year-olds may only perform cooking duties in plain sight of customers and when it is not their sole duty
- Minors under 16 may not work in the baking industry
- Minors cannot use power-driven meat processing machines and certain baking machines
- Minors cannot work at a business whose main purpose is to sell alcoholic beverages for use on the premises (this includes all jobs, not just serving alcohol)
- Minors may bus tables in a bona fide public eating establishment where alcohol is served
- Minors may only sell alcoholic beverages for off-site compensation or lottery tickets if they are constantly supervised by a someone 21 years old or older
What wage and hour obligations do I have to minors?
Employers must pay minors at least the applicable minimum wage. In addition, minors that are non-exempt workers must be provided with legally compliant meal and rest breaks, overtime wages, and workers compensation protection. If the minor is a high school graduate, they must be paid equal to adults.
Penalties for violating child labor laws
Violation of child labor laws carry both civil and criminal penalties. Civil penalties range from $500 to $10,000 per minor employed per violation. Criminal violations are misdemeanors and are punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months and/or fines up to $10,000.
The Labor Commissioner has published a booklet containing detailed information about child labor laws and requirements: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ChildLaborLawPamphlet.pdf