Child Labor Laws
Both federal and California laws govern the employment of minors. Child labor laws cover a wide range of industries and, a broad range of age groups. Employers that are considering the hiring an individual under the age of 18, should confirm they are in compliance with both state and federal youth labor laws. When federal and state child labor laws conflict, an employer must apply the stricter law.
Federal law has set minimum age requirements for youth seeking to perform work and the employment limitations on individuals under the age of 18. Children or youth under the age of 14 are generally prohibited from working unless one of a handful of exceptions apply, including:
being employed by parents in non-hazardous occupations,
working as actors or performers,
delivering newspapers, or
working as homeworkers in the making of wreaths made from natural elements
performing certain agricultural work.
Children ages 14 and 15 may work, but are limited in the hours and occupations that they work. Children ages 16 and 17 may work, but cannot be employed in industries the Department of Labor determines to be too hazardous.
California child labor laws regulate the ages, the times, and the types of work minors 17 years and younger may perform in California. Generally, youth who are 16 and 17 years old may work in a broad range of jobs, but cannot work in jobs that California has deemed are too hazardous. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may work in a broad range of jobs but are significantly limited in the number of hours per day and per week they may work, especially when school is in session. Children 13 years old or younger may not work in California, except in some limited situations.
When the California Department of Industrial Relations conducts an investigation and determines an employer has violated California child labor laws, it will issue a citation to the employer explaining the nature of the violation and whether the violation is a Class A or Class B violation. An employer may contest a citation within 15 business days after receiving the citation by requesting a formal hearing from the office of the Labor Commissioner that appears on the citation. Citations may also be issued to anyone who owns or controls the real property on which the youth works if the youth works for the person who owns or controls the property and the person has knowingly permitted the violation.
Employers who commit Class A violations of California child labor laws are subject to a civil penalty not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000 for each and every violation. Employers who are found to have willfully or repeatedly violated California child labor laws will be subject to greater penalties than those issued to non-willful or first-time violators.
Employers who commit Class B violations of California child labor laws are subject to a civil penalty not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 for each and every violation. Employers who are found to have willfully or repeatedly violated California child labor laws will be subject to greater penalties than those issued to non-willful or first-time violators.
Employers who violate California child labor laws may be found guilty of criminal penalties including a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000 and/or six months of imprisonment in the county jail. Employers who willfully violate the child labor laws may be subject to a fine of no more than $10,000 and/or six (6) months in the county jail. An individual may only be sentenced to time in jail if they have previously violated California child labor laws.
Employers should consult with an experience employment attorney about any citation it may receive. If you have any further questions or need any additional information about child working laws, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_Esq@comcast.net.
Copyright Law Office of Stephen Fiegel – All rights reserved.