Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws

January 19th 2024

Pennsylvania has implemented laws to safeguard the well-being of minors in the workplace, prioritizing their safety by prohibiting hazardous conditions and encouraging regular school attendance through restrictions on child labor.

This article aims to explore the key provisions of Pennsylvania’s child labor laws, encompassing age restrictions, limitations on working hours, and industry-specific regulations.

This article covers:


Employment Age for Minors in Pennsylvania

The Child Labor Act of Pennsylvania stipulates that minors are eligible for employment only when they reach the age of 14 or above.

Further, there are distinct guidelines concerning the hiring of minors aged 14 and above, which encompass restrictions on their working hours, starting times, and engagement in hazardous occupations.

It is crucial to emphasize that federal regulations prohibit minors from participating in hazardous job roles regardless of their age.

Exceptions to the Minimum Employment Age in Pennsylvania

Although individuals who are below 14 years old are generally not allowed to work in any occupation, there are certain exceptions. This includes the employment of such minors on farms or in domestic service within private homes. 

It is important to note that minors under 14 years of age cannot be employed on a farm by anyone other than the farmer. 

Further, there are specific provisions that permit the employment of 12-year-old caddies, 11-year-old news carriers, and juvenile performers in the entertainment industry, subject to certain limitations and regulations.

Working Permit and Written Consent for Minors in Pennsylvania

Employers must receive a written consent from minors under the age of 16, signed by their parent or legal guardian, acknowledging their work obligations and granting permission for their employment.

Furthermore, minors below 18 years old who intend to engage in live performances or broadcasts, including radio, television, movies, the Internet, or similar platforms with audiences, must obtain authorization from a state agency.

The issuance of work permits to minors residing within a school district, including those attending non-public schools, cyber charter schools, or participating in a home education program, is the responsibility of each school district.

To obtain a work permit, individuals should contact their school district to determine the appropriate location and the availability of the issuing officer during specific hours.

Working Hours for Minors in Pennsylvania

There are specific requirements for two age groups when it comes to the permissible working hours for minors: Minors under 16 years old and Minors under 16 and 17 years old. 

The legal working hours for children under 16 are as follows:

  • Anytime from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on days when school is in session.
  • Anytime from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on days when school is not in session.
  • No more than 3 hours on a school day.
  • No more than 8 hours on a non-school day.
  • No more than 18 hours per week when school is in session, with an additional 8 hours allowed on both Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 16 hours.
  • No more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.

The legal working hours for children under 16 and 17 are as follows:

  • Anytime between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. while school is in session.
  • Anytime between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. while school is out of session.
  • No more than 10 hours per day when school is not in session.
  • No more than 48 hours per week when school is not in session.
  • No more than 8 hours on a school day.
  • No more than 28 hours per week when school is in session, with an additional 8 hours allowed on both Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 16 hours.

Tracking work hours for minors can help in ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations. Modern tools like a timesheet app and time and attendance software facilitate precise monitoring.

Pennsylvania Payment Laws for Minors

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers can pay a training wage of $4.25 per hour to employees aged 16 to 19 for the first 90 calendar days of employment. 

A subminimum wage refers to any wage that falls below the state or federal minimum wage, depending on which one applies. One type of subminimum wage is known as the training wage. 

However, it’s worth noting that Pennsylvania has prohibited the use of a training wage since July 24, 2009. 

The US Department of Labor or Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance decides how much these workers get paid. 

The employer must have a special license to use this type of subminimum wage.

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

Meal and Break Period Requirements for Minors in Pennsylvania

Minor employees aged 14 through 17 are entitled to a minimum 30-minute break for a meal or rest period if they work for 5 or more consecutive hours.

It is worth noting that such benefits are exclusive to minors and not adult employees.

In Pennsylvania, neither state nor federal law requires employers to give workers who are not considered minors breaks to eat or rest. While Pennsylvania law doesn’t mandate meal and rest breaks, many employers do offer these benefits to their employees.

Banned Jobs for Minors in Pennsylvania

Certain occupations are not permitted for minors to pursue due to being considered too hazardous as governed by the Child Labor Act in Pennsylvania. The following are among the prohibited occupations for minors in Pennsylvania:

  • Brickmaker
  • Crane operator
  • Electrical worker
  • Excavator
  • Forest firefighter
  • Mill worker
  • Meat processing operator
  • Motor vehicle operator/servicer
  • Roofer
  • Welder
  • Occupations in establishments that serve alcoholic beverages
  • Acrobatic acts that include high-wire, trapeze, unicycle, and bicycle acts
  • Activities that expose minors to dangerous weapons, including pyrotechnical devices
  • Activities at high speeds and altitudes
  • Sexually abusive acts
  • Acts involving animals that weigh more than half of the minor’s weight

Workplace Notices and Documentation Requirements for Child Employees in Pennsylvania

Employers in Pennsylvania are required to display a copy of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Abstract of the Child Labor law (PDF) if they hire individuals who are minors

The employer is also obligated to ensure that the parent or legal guardian of any minor signs written permission and must retain the original documents while providing the parent or guardian with a copy.

Further, employers are required to retain copies of each minor’s work permit and the original permission statement and have a copy of the permission letter sent to the issuing officer to inform them about the minor’s employment. 

Within five days of the minor’s employment start date, the employer must submit a written notification to the issuing officer, providing details about the minor’s regular duties, working hours, age, and permit number. 

Similarly, when the minor’s employment comes to an end, the employer must inform the issuing officer within five days of the final workday, indicating that the minor is no longer employed by the company.

It’s worth underscoring that records and timesheets also serve as means to hold 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 more robust protections and regulations. Ultimately, this advocacy contributes to the overall well-being and future prospects of child workers.

Violating Minors Employment Laws in Pennsylvania and Respective Penalties

Information regarding violations of the law should be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

If an Enforcement Officer suspects that a person working without a permit is a minor or that a minor with a work permit is working in violation of the age restrictions outlined in the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, the Officer has the authority to request the person employing the individual to provide proof of age within ten days or to discontinue employing or allowing the individual to work. 

Additionally, the issuing officer should inform a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry about the suspected violation.

Violating the Child Labor Law can result in significant penalties. Individuals, including agents and managers, who breach the Child Labor Law may be fined between $200 and $400 for a first offense. In the case of subsequent offenses, the fine may range from $750 to $1,500, and the court may exercise its discretion to impose a maximum imprisonment of ten days or a combination of fine and imprisonment

The Pennsylvania Code also specifies misdemeanor penalties for violating specific Code sections related to child labor.

Learn more about Pennsylvania 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.