BOX 6-2 Fair Labor Standards Act Rules for Hours Worked in Agricultural Jobs

  • Children aged 16 and older may perform any job, hazardous or not, for unlimited hours.

  • Children aged 14 or 15 may perform any nonhazardous farm job outside of school hours.

  • Children aged 12 or 13 may work outside school hours in nonhazardous jobs, either with parents' consent or on the same farm as parents.

  • Children under the age of 12 may perform nonhazardous jobs outside of school hours with their parents' consent on farms not covered by minimum-wage requirements.

  • Children aged 10 or 11 may be employed to hand-harvest short-season crops outside of school hours, under special waivers. [Note: A court injunction currently blocks the issuing of these waivers if any pesticides have been used on the crops.]

  • Minors of any age may be employed by their parents at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents.

percent of 16-year-olds and 65 percent of 17-year-olds who are not in school are not working, either.3

It has also been suggested that limiting the hours of work may make it more difficult for teens to find jobs. Often, when employment of a particular group is made more difficult or more costly for employers, the employment level of that group declines. However, the experience in Washington state suggests that this may not necessarily be the case for young people. In 1992, Washington state changed its child labor laws to impose a 20-hour per week, 4-hour per day limitation on 16-and 17-year-olds during the school year. The Washington state law also prohibits 16-and 17-year-olds from working past 10:00 p.m. on a night preceding a schoolday. A 1994 study by the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries (Department of Labor and Industries, 1994) found no decrease in the number of jobs available to minors following the new law. Only 15 percent of employers reported negative effects from the change.


Committee analysis of 1990 census data.

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