Minors And Labor Law: What An Employer Is NOT Allowed To Do

Posted on: 21 April 2015


Minors enjoy getting a job and having an income of their own. However, there are labor laws in place to protect minors. At one time, children as young as five years old worked fourteen hour days in factories, doing dangerous jobs adults did not want to do. After the first World War, that changed and now employers are not allowed to hire teens or pre-teens to do dangerous work. If you are concerned that your son or daughter's employer is breaking the law, you first need to familiarize yourself on what the governing laws are.

No Long Shifts

Teens who are at least fourteen may work non-hazardous jobs after school. The law forbids minors to take work during school hours as minors should be in school and not working. Additionally, an employer may not:

  • Work minors for longer than three hours on a school night, including Fridays
  • Work minors for more than eighteen hours a week during the school year
  • Work minors for more than eight hours a day and forty hours a week in the summer

Additional labor laws by state may change how minors can work, but typically an employer is required to follow the laws which present the best possible working conditions for your teen.

No Dangerous Tasks

By Federal Labor Laws, teens are not allowed to drive commercial equipment, even if they have their driver's license, nor are they allowed to operate potentially dangerous machinery, including yard tools in a landscaping business. In most states, teens are not even allowed to operate a cardboard compactor until they turn eighteen. If your son or daughter has been asked to do anything remotely dangerous, then his or her employer is breaking the law. (The only exceptions to this rule are children who work on a farm.)

No Abuse of Power over a Minor

In the most egregious infractions of labor law and minors, supervisors will exert control over minors by making them work in unfit conditions. Not only does this put your son or daughter at risk for physical harm, but also emotional and psychological abuse. If your teen suddenly becomes terrified about going to work, there is definitely something wrong and/or illegal about the work tasks they are doing. Adult supervisors are supposed to look after their workers who are minors, keep them safe, teach them responsibility and encourage healthy work habits. When employers and supervisors fail to do so, you need to encourage your teen to speak up and/or quit. You can also talk with an employment lawyer like those at Alterman & Associates LLC to find out what other action can be taken.