Kentucky Child Labor Laws

January 8th 2024

Legislation in Kentucky strives to establish a secure work environment for minors, ensuring their protection from dangerous conditions, while also promoting consistent school attendance by imposing restrictions on child labor.

Within this article, we will examine the essential components of child labor regulations in Kentucky, including age limitations, restrictions on working hours, and industry-specific guidelines.

This article covers:


Employment Age for Minors in Kentucky

Employment of individuals below the age of 14 is strictly prohibited by Kentucky legislation.

Further, there are specific regulations in place regarding the employment of minors above 14, including limitations on work hours, starting times, and certain hazardous occupations.

It is essential to highlight that federal law prohibits all minors, irrespective of age, from working in hazardous positions.

Working Permit for Minors in Kentucky

In Kentucky, there is no requirement for a child work permit. 

However, while an official work permit is not mandatory, minors must provide documentation proving their age, such as a birth certificate or driver’s license, before they can be employed.

Further, 16- and 17-year-olds who wish to work more than 30 hours per week during the school year are required to obtain written parental permission and a school certification confirming a minimum grade point average of 2.0. 

When written permission from a parent or legal guardian is required, it should be kept at the employer’s premises.

Working Hours for Minors in Kentucky

Laws that govern working hours for minors in Kentucky are as follows:

Age Group Maximum Hours of Work
14 & 15
  • Per school day: Up to 3 hours
  • Per non-school day: Up to 8 hours
  • Per week: up to 18 hours
  • Per day: up to 8 hours
  • Per week when school is not in session: Up to 40 hours 
16 & 17
  • Per school day: Up to 6 hours
  • Per non-school day: Up to 8 hours
  • Per week: Up to 30 hours
  • When school is not in session: No restrictions
Night Work Restrictions
  • For minors aged 14 and 15: Prohibited between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. 
  • For minors aged 16 and 17, before a school day: Prohibited between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. 
  • For minors aged 16 and 17, before a non-school day: Prohibited between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. 
Required Meal Breaks For all minors: At least 30 minutes per every 5 hours of work 

Monitoring the working hours of employed minors is essential to ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations. Today, various tools are available for this purpose, including time tracking software and time and attendance software, which enable precise tracking.

Exceptions to Working Hours Limitations for Minors in Kentucky

If a parent or legal guardian provides written permission, a minor can work up to thirty-two and one-half (32.5) hours in a single workweek.

With written permission from a parent or legal guardian and written certification from the minor’s school principal or head, stating a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the most recent grading period, the minor can work up to forty (40) hours in a single workweek.

The employer must retain the written parental permission and school certification at their place of business.

Kentucky Payment Laws for Minors

Minors in Kentucky are entitled to receive at least minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour, for all hours worked.

It is important to ensure that they are compensated accordingly.

Meal and Break Period Requirements for Minors in Kentucky

Minors who are under the age of 18 are not allowed to work for more than five (5) consecutive hours without a lunch break of at least thirty (30) minutes. 

The employer must keep a record of when the lunch period starts and ends.

Furthermore, minors are subject to the same rest period regulations as adult employees, which entitles them to a reasonable paid break, typically lasting 10 minutes or more, for every four hours worked.

Banned Jobs for Minors in Kentucky

Minors aren’t allowed to work in risky positions. 

Kentucky state considers certain jobs and tasks to be dangerous and hazardous. This includes, among others:

  • Working in plants or establishments making or storing explosives 
  • Coal mining
  • Logging or sawmill jobs
  • Handling power-driven hoisting equipment (including forklifts)
  • Excavating, wrecking or demolishing sites
  • Shipbreaking operations
  • Working in distilleries or other establishments involved in making alcoholic beverages
  • Any work related to a roof

Certain exemptions may be applicable for 16 and 17-year-old apprentices and student-learners, with specific limitations and conditions.

Workplace Notices and Documentation Requirements for Child Employees in Kentucky

Cities, in their capacity as employers, have specific obligations regarding the employment of minors under the age of 18. These include prominently displaying a summary of child labor laws, a list of prohibited occupations for minors, and the permissible working hours for minors. 

Additionally, cities are required to maintain a separate record containing the names, ages, and addresses of all employed minors. This record should include the start and end times of each workday as well as the duration of meal periods provided to each minor. Employers must also retain proof of age for each minor, which can be a copy of their birth certificate, driver’s license, or school identification.

When hiring minors, cities must complete Form I-9 and Form W-4, even for seasonal or summer employment. Detailed instructions for completing Form I-9 for minors can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. For seasonal rehires, cities must also reverify or update the employment authorization on the Form I-9. Additional information regarding the re-verification process can also be found on the USCIS website.

It’s important to note that records and timesheets also function as mechanisms for holding employers accountable for their treatment of child laborers. Additionally, the data generated by time clock software is invaluable for child rights organizations and policymakers as they advocate for stronger protections and regulations, ultimately contributing to the overall well-being and future prospects of child workers.

Violating Minors Employment Laws in Kentucky

Failure to comply with child labor laws can result in significant penalties.

Violations may incur fines that range from $100 to $1,000 per offense, and an additional $100 for each day the violation persists after receiving notice.

To know more about the entitlements of employees, check our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Kentucky and your rights as an hourly employee in Kentucky. You can also learn more about Kentucky Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.