Summer’s here, school is out, and for many young people that means earning some extra spending money with a summer job.
That’s why it’s important to take another look at the federal and Montana child labor laws. Nearly every state in the union sets some limits on the hours and days that people under 16 can work. Many also specify working conditions. In every area, there are both state and federal child labor laws.
A number of states require that youths have a work permit in order to hold a job. In Rhode Island, anyone under 18 must have a work permit, sometimes called “working papers.”
State child labor laws vary greatly. In Texas, a 16 year old can work unlimited hours, even during the school term. It’s perfectly legal there for a 16 year old who is attending school to work 80 hours per week. Even youths as young as 14 can work up to 48 hours per week during the school term, in Texas. On the other hand, in Rhode Island those under 16 are limited to working 18 hours per week during the school term, and 40 hours per week when school is out.
Various states also regulate meal and rest breaks for employees under the age of 18. In Florida, there are no mandatory meal breaks for adults. However, young people under the age of 18 must receive a 30-minute meal break after 4 hours of work.
Under federal law, youngsters who are 14 and 15 can hold only a few jobs that are approved as non-hazardous. Once a young person is 16, however, the rules change. Youngsters who are 16 or 17 years old may be employed in any occupation not specifically prohibited by the Secretary of Labor. However, a wide range of occupations are prohibited. These include everything from operating heavy equipment and roofing, to fighting forest fires. For example, in a restaurant, youngsters may be hired to wash dishes, wait tables or bus tables, but cannot cook or operate a meat slicer.
A recent change to the federal law will make door-to-door sales a prohibited occupation for people under 18. There’s no need to fear for your Girl Scout cookies, however. Young people are still allowed to engage in door-to-door sales for charity fundraisers.
This is just the latest round of changes to the federal child labor laws. In December 2004, the Department of Labor issued final regulations that made a number of changes to existing child labor laws. In particular, young people were protected from working in the roofing industry, and in restaurant cooking. Those changes were made based on a 2002 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health review of hazards in child labor.