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October 3, 2008    DOL Home > Compliance Assistance > By Topic > Hiring Issues > Hiring Youth   

Hiring Issues

Hiring Youth

 Frequently Asked Questions


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment Standards Administrations Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the federal child labor laws. Generally speaking, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for employment (14 years for non-agricultural jobs), restricts the hours youth under the age of 16 may work, and prohibits youth under the age of 18 from being employed in hazardous occupations. In addition, the FLSA establishes subminimum wage standards for certain employees who are less than 20 years of age, full-time students, student learners, apprentices, and workers with disabilities. Employers generally must have authorization from WHD in order to pay sub-minimum wage rates.

The FLSAs child labor provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. The Department launched its YouthRules! initiative to promote positive and safe work experiences for young workers.

All states also have standards concerning youth employment. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to young workers will apply.

Note that federal employment laws on safety and health, discrimination, benefits, etc. apply to youth, as well as to older workers.

See also:
Compliance Assistance By Topic - Wages and Hours for Youth and
Compliance Assistance By Audience - Youth in the Workplace.







The federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for youth to be employed. The FLSA does require that covered employers maintain and preserve payroll and other records containing information and data with respect to each employee, including the employees date of birth if the employee is under 19 years old.

Some states do require youth to obtain a work permit or certificate of age before getting a job. The youths school counselor may be able to advise if a work permit is required for youth employment.


  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor standards for private sector and government workers.
  • 29 CFR Part 570 - Regulations on child labor administered by the Wage and Hour Division.
  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act - Requires that employers provide a safe and healthful work environment for all workers, including youth, and that they comply with occupational safety and health standards.
  • 29 CFR Part 70 - Regulations implementing the OSH Act.
  • State Labor Laws - Each state also has child labor laws. Employers must comply with both federal and state laws. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to youth workers will apply.



*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.

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