With the federal child labor laws under review, this is a good time for us to take another look at the Delaware child labor laws. In Delaware, young people aged 14 to 17 are required to have a work permit before they can be employed. The law restricts the hours of work according to age. In general, young people who are enrolled in school may not work during school hours. They are permitted to work longer hours during the summer months, and at other times when school is not in session.
The Delaware law prohibits young people from working in hazardous occupations, just as the federal child labor laws do.
The Delaware child labor laws have a number of specific exceptions. Under the state law, a number of jobs are specifically excluded from the restrictions on child labor, because the state does not define them as “employment.” For example, cleaning your room is not considered child labor, no matter what your 14-year-old son or daughter might tell you.
A variety of paid and unpaid occupations are not legally classified as jobs under the Delaware child labor laws, and so are permissible for young people. These include working on a farm in a non-hazardous occupation. Operating most types of farm machinery is considered hazardous, so that’s prohibited. However, young people can also perform domestic work in or around a private home.
There is a long-standing tradition that permits young people to work for their parents in the family business, and the Delaware child labor laws are no exception. It’s also permissible for a young person to work for a legal guardian. Again, the prohibition against hazardous employment applies.
The law specifically allows young people to work in some occupations unencumbered, including delivering newspapers and acting as a golf course caddy. Youths can also serve as unpaid volunteers for a charity or non-profit organization, with their parent’s permission.