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L&I Reinforces Commitment to Protecting Young Workers, Robust Enforcement of Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act


Contact: Trevor Monk,

Harrisburg, PA – As summer break approaches and teenagers seek employment opportunities, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Nancy Walker is reminding workers under the age of 18 of the protections afforded to them by law and is encouraging employers across Pennsylvania to familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania's Child Labor Act to ensure they are in full compliance or face potential consequences.

"As businesses are turning more and more to our young workers to fill job vacancies, it's crucial that we reiterate this point: unlawful employment of young workers will not be tolerated and may result in potential fines and enforcement actions," said Walker. "Remember, they are not just workers -- they're our kids -- and L&I remains committed to protecting them and holding bad actors accountable. We cannot allow profits to come before children's safety."

Pennsylvania's Child Labor Act, enforced by L&I's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance (BLLC), protects the health, safety, and welfare of minors employed in the Commonwealth by limiting employment in certain establishments and occupations, restricting the hours of work, regulating work conditions, and requiring work permits for children hired to fill a position. The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the federal child labor law, also applies in Pennsylvania. Where the laws overlap, the most protective standard applies.

Currently, the BLLC has 27 investigators to cover all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. Governor Josh Shapiro's proposed 2023-2024 budget includes funding for eight more labor law compliance investigators to enforce all of Pennsylvania's labor laws and further protect Pennsylvania's children and other workers.

Pennsylvania's Child Labor Act has distinct provisions for minors in three age categories: under 14, 14-15, and 16-17. All minors under 16 must have a written statement by the minor's parent or guardian acknowledging the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work. Minors are also required to obtain a work permit from their school district's issuing officer.

Except for minors who work in newspaper delivery, no minors may work more than six consecutive days. In addition, all minors must be provided a 30-minute meal period on or before five consecutive hours of work. Full- or part-time minors must be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

Under-14 Work Restrictions

Children under age 14 may not be employed in any occupation; however, they are permitted to work on a family farm or in domestic service, such as babysitting, or performing yard work or household chores. Other exceptions are made for caddies, newspaper carriers and – with special permits – juvenile entertainment performers.

14-15-Year-Olds Work Restrictions

When school is not in session, 14 and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and no more than eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. For some occupations, such as newspaper delivery, caddies and some farm work, different standards may apply. 

When school is in session, 14 and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and no more than three hours a day on school days, or 18 hours per school week. Different standards may apply for non-school days.

16-17-Year-Olds Work Restrictions 

When school is not in session, 16 and 17-year-olds may only work between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. and no more than 10 hours a day, or 48 hours a week. Employers may not compel minors in this age group to work beyond 45 hours a week. 

When school is in session, 16 and 17-year-olds may only work between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. and no more than eight hours a day on school days, or 28 hours per school week. Different standards may apply for non-school days.

How to Submit a Complaint

L&I's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance responds to complaints filed by members of the public who suspect violations of the Child Labor Act, and other Pennsylvania labor laws. Anyone can file a complaint on L&I's website using an online submission form.

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