I own a retail store in Carmel and I am in the process of hiring summer workers. Many of the applicants are high school students. What do I need to know about hiring workers who are under 18 years old?


The California Labor Code imposes limits on the number of hours minors work. Generally, minors must be at least 14 years old to work, except in some entertainment and agricultural jobs. Between June 1 and Labor Day, 14 and 15 year olds may work no more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week, and they cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. During the school year, 14 and 15 year old workers may not work more than 3 hours on school days, 8 hours on non-school days, more than 18 hours per week, or before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

When school is not in session, 16 and 17 year olds can work up to 8 hours a day and up to 48 hours a week. The overtime rules that apply to adult workers also apply to 16 and 17 year old workers. With a few exceptions, work hours for 16 and 17 year olds must be between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., but during the non-school months or on evenings before a non-school day 16 and 17 year olds can work as late as 12:30 a.m. When school is in session, 16 and 17 year olds may generally work 4 hours per school day and 8 hours on a non-school day or on a school day preceding a non-school day.

There are also certain industries that constitute hazardous jobs and minors are prohibited from working in these jobs. These include meatpacking, mining, logging, roofing, demolition, and pipe or brick manufacturing. Minors also may not work around explosives, radioactive materials, or power equipment used for baking, meat slicing, woodworking, hoisting, or metal formation. Minors under age 17 cannot drive on public streets for work purposes. Minors under 16 cannot work in building construction, public utilities, storage warehousing, public communications, transportation, and manufacturing industries. They are also barred from operating farm machinery, working on high scaffolds or ladders, dealing with dangerous animals, large timber, hazardous storage areas, manure pits, and chemicals.

A minor must obtain a work permit, which must be completed by the minor’s parents and the employer. The minor then submits the permit to his or her school. The school processes the permit and usually mails the employer a permit to employ the minor. The employer must keep the permit on file.

Minors are covered by adult minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. The current minimum wage is $6.75 per hour. Minors are entitled to workplace rights described in the Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders and California statues, such as rest periods, workers’ compensation coverage, and statements of paycheck deductions. The California Labor Commissioner publishes an online pamphlet to assist you in complying with the laws governing the employment of minors. For more information, visit the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement website at and click on publications to access the child labor law pamphlet.
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