Youth Worker Wage and Hour Laws

So you have youth workers working for you?  Sure, they are inexperienced, but they have a lot of energy and cost a lot less as well. So, what are the wage and hour laws for youth workers?  Some of the answers may surprise you.

The federal law dealing with this issue, called the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), regulates hours that may be worked for those who are 14-15 (but not for 16-17 year olds).  For 14-15 year olds, the rules are these; work hours are limited to:

  • Non-school hours;
  • 3 hours in a school day;
  • 18 hours in a school week (Mon. – Fri.), plus 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday;
  • 8 hours in a non-school day;
  • 40 hours on a non-school week; and
  • Work between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. (except for June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.).  [State law says these hours can be extended till 9 p.m. during school vacation – i.e., it doesn’t say “June 1 through Labor Day”].

What the FLSA does not deal with, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act of 2012 does. Pennsylvania law directs the hours that can be worked with respect to 16-17 year olds. Hence, the state law requirements include the following limitations:

  • 28 hours in a school week (Mon. – Fri.), plus 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays (up to 48 hours a week during school vacation, provided that all hours over 44 are voluntarily agreed to by the minor – and the minor may reject hours over 44 without retaliation);
  • 8 hours per day (Mon. – Fri.) (up to 10 hours per day during school vacation); and
  • 6 a.m. – 12 midnight (except during school vacation, until 1 a.m.).

State law also requires that at least a 30 minute rest break is required after 5 hours of work.  No minor can be required to work for more than 6 consecutive days.

State law also requires an employer to post what the Child Labor Act refers to as an “abstract” of the law, as it relates to hours of work, etc., and that such posting must be in a “conspicuous place in the establishment.”

Finally, a word about minimum wage.  There is a federal minimum wage for minors.  The law allows employers to pay those who are under 20 years of age a rate of $4.25 (the youth minimum wage) for 90 consecutive calendar days after hire.  Regardless of whether they work each of the 90 days, etc., once 90 days has come and gone, the rate must increase to the standard minimum wage that applies to everyone else (i.e., currently $7.25/hr.).

If you have youth worker questions, please contact the employment lawyers at Trinity Law for help at