Teens and Summer Jobs: What Pennsylvanians Need To Know

State Child Labor Laws limit the working hours and types of work a teen may perform.

Shelby Cassesse
June 06, 2018 - 1:19 pm
Pennsylvania has Child Labor Laws in place to protect minors seeking employment.

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - As high school students finish the school year and seek summer employment, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians about the state's Child Labor Laws.

In an effort to protect the health, safety and welfare of Pennsylvania minors, the laws limit working hours and the types of work that may be performed by employees under the age of 18. 

The laws cover three age groups: 14 years old and younger, 14- to 15-year-olds and 16- to 17-year-olds. L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak says each group needs a different kind of permission.

"If you are under 18, you need a work permit before starting work," he said. "If you are under 16, you must get written permission from a parent or guardian to go to work." 

Children under age 14 may not be employed, unless it is on a family farm or in domestic service, such as lawn or house chores. Exceptions are made for some occupations like newspaper delivery or caddie work. Juvenile entertainment performers need a special permit. 

Per the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, these are the restrictions per age group: 

14-15-Year-Olds Work Restrictions

During the summer, 14 - and 15-year-olds may only work between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM 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. 

16-17-Year-Olds Work Restrictions

During the summer, 16 - and 17-year-olds may only work between 6:00 AM and 1:00 AM and no more than 10 hours a day, or 48 hours a week. A minor may also refuse any request to work that exceeds 44 hours per week.

All minors may not work more than six consecutive days, and 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.  

Youth under age 18 may not work in any occupation considered dangerous to life or limb, or harmful to their morals. Exceptions include authorized apprenticeships, student learners and graduates of an approved vocational, technical or industrial-education curriculum that prepares 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.

Workers who are 18 years and older are not subject to child labor laws. The federal child labor law also applies in Pennsylvania. Where they overlap, the more stringent of the two laws takes precedence in favor of the young worker. More information is available by calling L&I’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance toll-free at 800-932-0665, or by visiting the bureau’s website.