May 30, 2008
EMPLOYMENT OF 14- AND 15-YEAR-OLDS IN CONNECTICUT COMPARED TO FEDERAL LAW
By: John Moran, Principal Analyst
You asked for a comparison of how state law, including PA 08-108, compares to federal law regarding the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds.
In some areas, state law sets a higher standard than federal law regarding employment of 14- and 15-year-olds. In other areas, state law is silent, therefore the federal standard applies.
State and federal law coincide in a number of areas, including permitting minors age 14 and 15 to do certain nonhazardous jobs outside of school hours for limited times each day and week.
PA 08 -108 permits 15-year-olds to be employed as baggers, cashiers, or stock clerks in retail businesses under certain work-hour restrictions. Federal law sets a similar standard for 15-year-olds, but also allows 14-year olds to work in these establishments.
STATE AND FEDERAL LAW
Federal law sets a minimum standard of permitted employment for 14- and 15-year-olds. It allows states to set higher, more protective, standards and Connecticut does this for a number of types of jobs, but Connecticut law is silent in other areas, thus allowing the federal standard to apply.
For nonagricultural employment, the federal law allows youths age 14 and 15 to work limited hours, outside school hours, in various nonmanufacturing, nonmining, and nonhazardous jobs. Federal law permits, and state law is silent on, 14- and 15-year-olds working in the following types of jobs:
1. hospitals and convalescent homes (no food service or laundry),
2. hotels and motels (no food service or laundry),
4. insurance companies,
5. professional offices (lawyers, CPAs, etc.),
6. municipalities (library attendants, recreation departments, etc.),
8. household chores for private homeowners (yard work, etc.), and
9. licensed summer camps.
In practice, few hotels, banks, insurance companies, or other similar employers actually hire youths age 14 or 15 even though they may.
Under federal law, 14- and 15-year-old minors may not be employed:
● during school hours,
● before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except from July 1 to Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.,
● more than three hours per day on school days or eight hours on non-school days, and
● more than 18 hours a week in school weeks or 40 hours in non-school weeks.
State Prohibitions, Exceptions, and Restrictions
State law prohibits minors under 16 from working in manufacturing, mechanical, mercantile (retail), or theatrical industries (except acting) or restaurants or bowling alleys. Furthermore, state law carves out limited exceptions to these prohibitions.
One exception is the law allowing 15-year-olds to work in retail establishments, which expired on September 30, 2007. PA 08-108 restored this exception and once again 15-year-olds can work as baggers, cashiers, or stock clerks in retail businesses. PA 08-108 permits them to work:
1. when school is not in session for at least five consecutive days, except that they may work in retail food stores on any Saturday;
2. for up to eight hours a day or 40 hours a week; and
3. between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except that from July 1 to Labor Day, they may work until 9 p.m. (CGS § 31-23(b)).
This state limit on hours is more protective than federal rules, which allow those under 16 to work up to 18 hours in a school week.
State law also specifically makes exceptions allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to be employed in the following:
2. municipal or private golf course (golf caddie or work in a pro shop),
3. “street trades” (shoe shining, baby-sitting, etc.),
4. domestic service, and
5. newspaper delivery (CGS § 31-23(b)).
Federal law allows minors as young as 12 years old to work in agriculture outside of school hours with the written consent of their parent or on a farm where the minor's parent is also employed. Federal law allows minors age 14 to work in any agricultural occupation except those declared hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor (for more details see U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Child Labor Bulletin 102).
State law does not restrict 14- and 15-year-olds from working in agriculture. It allows employers to pay minors between the ages of 14 and 18 less than the state minimum hourly wage. Farms that employed fewer than eight workers in the previous year, may pay minors as little as 70% of the state minimum wage; those employing eight or more may pay minors no less than 85% of the minimum wage (CGS § 31-58a).
Connecticut Department of Labor, minors in the workplace, frequently asked questions:
U.S. DOL webpage for workplace rules for minors in nonagricultural jobs: www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/childlabor101.pdf
See U.S. DOL webpage for comparisons of various state labor laws, including law regarding minors: