Pennsylvania Reminds Public of Child Labor Law

Sept. 8, 2003
Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Stephen M. Schmerin reminded Pennsylvanians that the state's child labor law that protects the health, safety and welfare of young people is more stringent during the school year than during summer months.

The state's child labor law limits work hours and types of work allowed for children and teenagers under age 18.

"It is important for employers to follow the child labor law to ensure safety and work conditions," Schmerin said. "The law provides common-sense protection for young Pennsylvanians that everyone should know and follow."

Pennsylvania's child labor law like many across the country covers three age groups: under 14 years of age; 14- and 15-year-olds; and 16- and 17-year-olds.

  • Children under age 14 may not be employed or permitted to work in any occupation. Exceptions include children employed on a family farm or in domestic service, such as snow shoveling, lawn or house chores, caddies, newspaper carriers, and juvenile entertainment performers with special permits.
  • Teenagers age 14 and 15 may work a maximum of four hours on a school day, eight hours on any other day, and 18 hours per school week (Monday through Friday) only at a time that does not interfere with school attendance. Work is limited to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Exceptions include newspaper delivery, caddies and some farm work.
  • Teenagers age 16 and 17 may work a maximum of eight hours on a school day, 28 hours a week in the five-day school week.
  • Individuals 18 years or older are not subject to the child labor law. A 17-year-old who has graduated or withdrawn from high school, as determined by the chief school administrator, is treated as an 18-year-old not subject to Pennsylvania's child labor law, but the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act may apply.
  • Workers under age 18 must have an employment certificate issued by school authorities.
  • Minors under age 18 may not work in any occupation considered dangerous to life or limb, or injurious to their morals. Exceptions include authorized apprenticeships; student learners; and graduates of approved vocational, technical or industrial-education curriculum that prepare the students for the specific work.
  • Dangerous occupations include electrical, explosive and excavating work; heavy or cutting machinery; welding; wrecking and demolition; roofing; mining; freight elevators; and many railroad jobs.
  • Minors may not work more than six days a week, and must be allowed a 30-minute meal period on or before five consecutive hours of work. With a few exceptions, working minors, full or part-time, must be paid at least the minimum wage.
About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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