Hey! Have you started your first job yet? Congrats! Earning your own money can be exciting. But before you race out to make that paper, it's important to know the laws that protect underage workers like you. That's where the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) comes in.
The FLSA sets rules about how old you need to be to work, what hours you can work, and what types of jobs you can do. Why? To keep you safe and make sure employers don't take advantage of you. Let's break it down:
You typically have to be at least 14 years old to work in the United States. There are some exceptions—you can deliver newspapers at 12 and do farm work at 12 or 13 with parental permission. But most regular jobs require you to be 14 or older. That includes working as a restaurant host, summer camp counselor, grocery store cashier, etc.
The FLSA sets these age minimums to prevent kids from being exposed to dangers at work before they're mature enough to handle it. We know you're super responsible, but these laws are meant to look out for all underage workers!
When you turn 14, the FLSA says you can only work limited hours. Specifically:
- No more than 3 hours on school days
- No more than 8 hours on non-school days
- No more than 18 hours total in a school week
- No more than 40 hours total in a non-school week
On top of that, you can only work certain times of day:
- 7am - 7pm from Labor Day to June 1
- 7am - 9pm June 1 to Labor Day
So even if you want to work more, the FLSA says no since too many hours could harm your health or schoolwork. Once you turn 16, some of these restrictions go away.
Some jobs are completely off-limits for underage workers under the FLSA. These include:
- Driving/operating heavy machinery (forklifts, tractors, etc.)
- Manufacturing/meat processing
- Power-driven equipment like slicers or box crushers
- Any job exposing you to radiation
Again, the FLSA bans these to keep you safe from hazardous conditions. Stick to gentler work like retail, childcare, tutoring, and more. When you turn 18, any job becomes fair game!
So those are the main ways the FLSA protects young workers like you! Obeying these rules isn't always easy or fun, but they exist to make sure you stay healthy and don't jeopardize your education. You've got a bright future ahead of you, so work smart and make that paper the legal way. Let us know if you have any other labor law questions!