Tennessee Child Labor Law

All states have laws and regulations that govern child labor. I found that the Tennessee Department of Labor has a very helpful Web site that clearly spells out the Tennessee Child Labor Act, which is applicable for all Tennessee residents.

In general, the Child Labor Act states that it is prohibited for minors to be employed in occupations or working conditions that may be hazardous. In addition, minors that are aged 14 and 15 may not be employed during school hours, between 7pm and 7pm if the next day is a school day, between 9pm and 6am or more than 3 hours on a school day. I have found that these restrictions are much tighter than in many other states.

A student aged 14 or 15 also may not work more than 18 hours a day or 8 hours on a non-school day. Total, the child may not work more than 40 hours a week.

The rules, of course, are less restricting for older teens. They state that students are not allowed to work during the hours when the minor is required to attend classes. Additionally, the minor may not work between the hours of 10pm and 6am Sunday-Thursday on evenings preceding a school day. This clause is active except when the minor has parental or guardian consent.

The minor aged 16 or 17 may work until midnight no more than 3 nights from Sunday through Thursday. Employers must also keep detailed records about their employees, including their minor employees. These forms should remain valid until the end of the school year in which is submitted or until termination or the employment (whichever situation occurs first.)

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Labor Standards are the offices that make these forms available and enforce the laws and regulations.

The Tennessee Complete Labor Law poster is available with all of the most current child labor laws as well as all of the federal labor laws. 


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2 Thoughts on “Tennessee Child Labor Law”

Connie Davis

March 12, 2009 at 10:04 am

I am Co-Op coordinator at a high school. Need to know legal age for students to operate deep fryer within fast food job.


March 12, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Hi Connie! Both the Tennessee and federal child labor law limit the hazardous occupations that young people can engage in. The two statutes are almost identical.
Any young person age 16 or older can work in a restaurant and operate any of the equipment except a meat slicer. It is legal for these young people to operate a deep fat fryer (or fryolator, as it is called in the restaurant industry.) Under federal law, a young person under the age of 16 can operate a deep fat fryer only if the fryer is equipped with equipment that automatically lowers the food into the hot fat, and automatically raises it. Most fast food fryers are not so equipped.
Young people under the age of 16 are also prohibited from using cooking equipment that has an open flame, or uses extremely high heat, such as broilers. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

The list of hazardous jobs prohibited for young people between 16 and 18 under federal law is at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/Title_29/Part_570/Subpart_E.htm

The federal provisions for young people ages 14 to 16 are at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/Title_29/Part_570/29CFR570.34.htm

Tennessee child labor laws are at: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/lsques.html#childlabor

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