Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Orange bar
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

May 10, 2011

Teen workers: What teens, parents, employers should know about child labor laws

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) estimates Minnesota workplaces will employ more than 65,000 teenagers this summer, some of them for the first time. As teens transition from spending their days in school to taking on summer jobs, they, their parents and their employers should be familiar with state and federal regulations concerning hours, wages, age limitations and prohibited types of work, as well as employee safety and health.

DLI has developed targeted Web pages about teens in the workplace that provide quick access to key information about child labor related laws at both the state and federal levels -- www.dli.mn.gov/LS/TeenWorkers.asp.

"When employed within legal parameters, along with their earnings teen workers can develop attributes that include a stronger work ethic, increased responsibility and better time-management skills," said Ken Peterson, DLI commissioner. "Employers also benefit from the teen's hard work and their eagerness to learn, and they have an opportunity to develop them into future full-time employees."

This summer, teens finding employment may not know they have rights in the workplace as well as the responsibilities they'll take on. DLI's new teen worker Web pages can help young, first-time workers learn about the laws that are in place to protect them.

Parents of working teens
Parents can learn a lot about their child's workplace by simply asking their child about job duties, about equipment they are required to operate, about training -- including safety training they have received, and by visiting the workplace and meeting their child's employer. If parents are aware of the laws governing child labor, they can be proactive in ensuring their child's workplace is appropriate for their child.

Employers of teen workers
In situations where both federal and state laws apply to an employer, the more protective standard must be followed. Most Minnesota employers are required to comply with the following provisions.

  • The minimum age for employment is 14, unless a federal or state law exemption allows for a younger minimum age.
  • Hours worked by 14- and 15-year-olds are limited to: nonschool hours; eight hours on a nonschool day; 40 hours in a nonschool week; three hours in a school day; 18 hours in a school week; and, from June 1 through Labor Day, hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (after Labor Day, 7 p.m. becomes the latest this group may work).
  • Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may not work: after 11 p.m. on any evening before a school day; before 5 a.m. on any school day. With written permission from a parent or guardian, a 16- and 17-year-old may begin work at 4:30 a.m. on a school day or work until 11:30 p.m. on an evening before a school day.

In addition, there are both Minnesota and federal child labor laws that restrict minors from working in certain hazardous jobs and from operating or assisting with the operation of certain hazardous equipment.

For more information about child labor laws, contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry's Labor Standards unit at (651) 284-5070; for information related to safety and health in the workplace, contact DLI's Minnesota OSHA unit at (651) 284-5050. Both work units may also be reached toll-free at 1-800-342-5354.


News media contact:
Jenny O'Brien
(651) 284-5261

DLI home page | Directions and maps | News and media | Website disclaimer