It’s Back to School Time…So Sharpen Your #2 Pencils and Get a Refresher on Child Labor Laws

Contributed by Julie Proscia

With kids heading back to school, employers need to not only sharpen their  # 2 pencils (do they even use those anymore??) but also conduct a quick refresher on child labor laws. Like the summer job, the after-school job is a right of passage and a way to earn some spending cash. While permissible to hire individuals age 16 and under, there are a few restrictions to be aware of before you start the process. Both federal and state laws set rules for the employment of minors and these laws regulate the wages paid, hours of employment and types of work that a minor can perform. For a quick refresher:

Employees under the age of 18 may be paid $7.75 per hour. The minimum wage for employees 18 and over is $ 8.25 per hour.

Work Permits
Work Permits are issued by the Superintendent of Schools, generally a school’s principal. The minor employee must present a statement of the expected hours of work and their birth certificate to the school principal to receive a permit.

Hours of Work
When school is in session, children 14 and 15 years of age may work:

  • Up to 3 hours per day;
  • Up to 24 hours per week; and
  • The combined hours of school and work may not exceed 8 hours per day.

When school is NOT in session (including summer vacations, holidays and weekends), minors under the age of 16 may NOT work:

  • More than 8 hours per day;
  • More than 6 days per week; nor
  • More than 48 hours per week.

Daily hours of work may not be before 7:00 AM or after 7:00 PM except between June 1st and Labor Day when working hours may be extended.

Hazardous Occupations
There is a long list of occupations that are deemed hazardous and prohibited for minors under the age of 16. The most common are:

  • In or about a filling or service station;
  • In roofing operations;
  • In occupations involving the handling of storage of blood, blood products, body fluids or body tissue; and
  • In, about or in conjunction with bowling alleys, pool and billiard rooms, skating rinks (except those owned and run but a school or unit of government).

Although federal and Illinois child labor laws are very similar, it is important to remember that, when in doubt, follow the stricter of the two.  For a full list of hazardous occupations and Illinois rules regarding the employment of minors go to: