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For Summer Break, Department of Labor & Industry Reminds Pennsylvanians of Child Labor Act Protections for Young Workers

Harrisburg, PA – As summer break approaches and teenagers seek employment opportunities, Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier is reminding parents, teens, educators and employers across Pennsylvania about the rules outlined in the commonwealth’s Child Labor Act that protects workers under age 18.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

Harrisburg, PA – As summer break approaches and teenagers seek employment opportunities, Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier is reminding parents, teens, educators and employers across Pennsylvania about the rules outlined in the commonwealth’s Child Labor Act that protects workers under age 18.

“Summer employment is an opportunity for teenagers to gain experience in the workplace, earn a paycheck and acquire lifelong skills,” Berrier said. “As businesses offer higher pay and look to teenagers to fill job vacancies, it is important employers follow the laws in place that protect young workers and ensure a positive, equitable work environment.”

Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act, enforced by L&I’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, protects the health, safety, and welfare of minors employed in the commonwealth by limiting employment in certain establishments, restricting the hours of work, regulating work conditions, and requiring work permits for children hired to fill a position.

Since 2015, the bureau has collected more than $3.7 million in fines from nearly 400 entities in violation of the Act. So far, in 2022, the bureau has collected $80,300 from 33 entities in violation of the Act.

For minors engaged in work other than the entertainment industry, the law covers three age groups: children less than 14 years of age, 14- and 15-year-olds, and 16- and 17-year-olds. All minors under 16 must have a written statement by the minor’s parent or guardian acknowledging the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work. Minors are also required to obtain a work permit from their school district’s issuing officer.

Except for minors who work in newspaper delivery, all minors may work no more than six consecutive days. In addition, all minors must be allowed a 30-minute meal period on or before five consecutive hours of work. Full- or part-time minors must be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

Under-14 Work Restrictions

Children under age 14 may not be employed in any occupation; however, they are permitted to work on a family farm or in domestic service, such as babysitting, yard work or household chores. Other exceptions are made for caddies, newspaper carriers and – with special permits – juvenile entertainment performers.

14-15-Year-Olds Work Restrictions

When school is not in session, 14- and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and no more than eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. For some occupations, such as newspaper delivery, caddies and some farm work, different standards may apply. 

When school is in session, 14- and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and no more than three hours a day on school days, or 18 hours per school week. Different standards may apply for non-school days.

16-17-Year-Olds Work Restrictions

When school is not in session, 16- and 17-year-olds may only work between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. and no more than 10 hours a day, or 48 hours a week. Employers may not compel minors in this age group to work beyond 45 hours a week without the minor’s permission.

When school is in session, 16- and 17-year-olds may only work between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. and no more than eight hours a day on school days, or 28 hours per school week. Different standards may apply for non-school days.

Workers who are 18 years and older are not subject to child labor laws. The federal child labor law also applies in Pennsylvania. Where the laws overlap, the more stringent of the two laws takes precedence in favor of the young worker.

More information is available by calling the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance toll-free at 800-932-0665, or by visiting the bureau’s website. Information about filing complaints related to the Child Labor Act is also available online.

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