Summer is finally upon us, and thousands of young people across the state will be looking for and filling vacant positions. Many employers hire minors to fill part-time and entry-level positions, giving such youth the opportunity to learn essential work skills. While getting that first job is one of the rites of passage for many young people, employers must be aware of specific rules under both federal and state laws regarding the employment of individuals under 18 years of age.
The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act (“Act”) lays out age limits, permissible working hours and permitting requirements, and makes Pennsylvania law consistent with federal child labor laws. The Act should make it easier for employers to ensure that they are in compliance with Pennsylvania law and to understand the parameter for employing minors. This article summarizes only a few of the most notable requirements of the Act.
The Act, with limited exceptions, prohibits the employment of minors under the age of 14. The Act prohibits Pennsylvania employers from allowing individuals under the age of 18 from working more than six consecutive days and from working more than five consecutive hours in a day without a 30-minute break.
Minors who are 14 and 15 years old may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except that during school vacation periods these minors may be permitted to work until 9 p.m. Minors in this age group also may not work for more than three hours on a school day or more than eight hours on a day when there is no school, and for no more than 18 hours during a regular school week or more than 40 hours when school is not in session. Minors who are 16 and 17 years old may not work more than 28 hours during a regular school week, more than eight hours in a single day, or before 6 a.m. or after midnight except until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, or on days preceding a vacation during a school year. During school vacation, a minor age 16 or 17 may work up to 10 hours in a single day and 48 hours per week.
Employing underage minors in your business can be a win-win situation that allows you to fill labor shortages and give teenagers valuable skills that they will carry into the workplace for years to come. By paying attention to and following the existing child labor laws, you help ensure a safer workplace for all of your employees, while giving back to the communities you do business in.
For a complete look at the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act requirements, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry website at http://www.dli.pa.gov/ and the Pennsylvania Department of Education at http://www.education.pa.gov.
Tammy Lamary-Toman, JD, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the vice president and legal counsel for the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact her at 814/833-3200, 800.815-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.