Massachusetts Child Labor Laws

January 8th 2024

The significance of minors working relates to them gaining work experience, such as skill development, responsibility, and financial independence.

In Massachusetts, child labor laws and regulations play a crucial role in striking a balance between allowing minors to work in safe and appropriate conditions while safeguarding their rights, health, and educational opportunities.

This article aims to provide an overview of the key components of child labor regulations in Massachusetts, exploring topics such as age restrictions, limitations on work hours, hazardous or exploitative and specific guidelines applicable to different industries.

This article covers:


Employment Age for Minors in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, laws regarding the work hours of minors stipulate that individuals under the age of 14 are generally prohibited from working. 

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Minors under the age of 14 may be permitted to work in limited situations. These situations include:

  • Employment on farms
  • Working as news carriers
  • Involvement in family businesses
  • Engaging in entertainment-related activities with the appropriate permit

Working Permit for Minors in Massachusetts

Employers in Massachusetts must adhere to state laws and obtain a Youth Employment Permit when hiring individuals under the age of 18. 

This requirement is in addition to federal regulations that are already in place. 

Working Hours for Minors in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has specific regulations in place regarding the working hours of minors, taking into account their age, type of work, and whether school is in session. 

For individuals aged 16 and 17, work is permitted between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on regular school days and extends until 11:30 p.m. on nights when there is no school the next day. 

These minors may work up to 48 hours per week, with a maximum of 9 hours per day and 6 days per week.

As for 14 and 15-year-olds, they are allowed to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the school term and until 9 p.m. during the summer period. Their work hours during the term are limited to 18 hours per week, with no more than 3 hours per day on school days. 

On non-school days, they can work up to 8 hours per day and 6 days per week, with a total of 40 hours permissible during non-school periods.

All minors working after 8 p.m. must be under the supervision of an adult, except in locations where on-site security personnel, such as shopping malls, are present.

Monitoring work hours for employed minors is crucial to ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations. Contemporary tools like time tracking software and time and attendance software facilitate precise monitoring.

Exceptions to Working Hours Limitations for Minors in Massachusetts

There are certain exceptions when it comes to minors working hours in Massachusettes in limited conditions. 

For minors aged 14 and 15, students may be permitted to work during the school day for school-approved career or experience-building jobs. In such cases, they can work for up to 23 hours per week.

As for 16 and 17-year-olds, on non-school nights, if they are employed at a restaurant or racetrack, they may work until midnight.

Massachusetts Payment Laws for Minors

In Massachusetts, there are specific minimum wage provisions for employees under the age of 20 and for full-time high school or college students working part-time.

According to federal law, any employer in Massachusetts can pay a new employee who is under 20 years old a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the initial 90 days of employment.

For full-time high school or college students working part-time, they may be paid 85% of the Massachusetts minimum wage (which can be as low as $12.75 per hour) for up to 20 hours of work per week. This applies to certain employers, such as work-study programs at universities.

Break Requirements for Minors in Massachusetts

According to labor laws in Massachusetts, employers are obligated to grant a thirty-minute meal break to their employees for every work shift exceeding six hours in duration.

This meal break is unpaid.

While employers are not mandated to provide rest breaks, many choose to do so to assist employees in preventing burnout.

Banned Jobs for Minors in Massachusetts

Individuals under 18 years old are restricted from engaging in occupations that present physical, emotional, or moral risks, as per the Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development

Minors under the age of 16 are specifically prohibited from working in the following roles:

  • Operating power-driven machinery
  • Cooking on non-electric or non-gas grills
  • Operating certain types of kitchen equipment

For minors under 18, additional restrictions include:

  • Driving vehicles
  • Handling alcohol
  • Engaging in specific food preparation jobs

Waivers for Minors Labor Laws Restrictions in Massachusetts

Children working in the entertainment, theater, or film industry may be eligible for temporary waivers of time restrictions.

The Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has the authority to issue these waivers, ensuring the safety and well-being of child actors and performers, promoting legal compliance, and supporting the film and entertainment sectors.

It is essential to understand the distinction between an application for a waiver and an application for a youth employment work permit in Massachusetts, as they serve different purposes. While a youth employment work permit is obligatory for all minors aged 14-17, a waiver refers to a separate authorization or exemption.

Workplace Notices and Documentation Requirements for Minors in Massachusetts

Employers who hire minors must display a printed child labor law notice in Massachusetts that specifies the permissible working hours.

This notice should include information such as the maximum number of hours allowed per day and week, the designated start and end times for the workday, as well as the scheduled start and end times for rest or meal periods.

It’s worth highlighting that records and timesheets also serve as instruments for holding employers accountable for their treatment of child laborers. Furthermore, the data generated by time clock software is invaluable for child rights organizations and policymakers as they advocate for more robust protections and regulations. Ultimately, this advocacy contributes to the overall well-being and future prospects of child workers.

Sanctions for Violating Minors Employment Laws in Massachusetts

It is unlawful in Massachusetts to falsify a birth certificate or any other form of age verification for the purpose of obtaining a work permit.

Engaging in such an act is considered illegal and can result in penalties, including a fine ranging from $10 to $500, imprisonment for a maximum of 1 year, or a combination of both.

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