With spring upon us and warmer temperatures hopefully just over the horizon, many employers are beginning to recruit high school students for after-school and summer employment. When doing so, employers must be aware of specific rules under both federal and state laws regarding the employment of minors (i.e., individuals under 18 years of age).
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act (“PCLA” or “Act”) went into effect. The Act is designed to clarify the state law and make it consistent with child labor standards imposed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). For all intents and purpose, compliance with the PCLA will satisfy the employer’s obligations under the FLSA.
The Act sets forth minimum age requirements, permissible working hours and time restrictions, and permitting requirements. The most notable requirements of the PCLA are outlined below:
- With limited exceptions, children under the age of 14 may not be employed in any occupation.
Hours of Work and Work Time Restrictions
- Minors who work more than five continuous hours are required to be given a 30-minute uninterrupted rest period.
- Minors are prohibited from working more than six consecutive days.
- Minors Ages 14 & 15:
- During School Term – maximum 3 hours / school day, 8 hours / non-school day; maximum 18 hours / school week (M-F) with 8 additional hours on Sat / Sun; no interference with school attendance.
- During School Vacations – maximum 8 hours / day; 40 hours / week.
- Work Time – employment between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during school term; during school vacations, minors may work until 9 p.m.
- Minors Ages 16 & 17:
- During School Term – maximum 8 hours / day; maximum 28 hours / school week (M-F), with 8 additional hours on Sat / Sun; no interference with school attendance.
- During School Vacations – maximum 10 hours / day; 48 hours / week; minor may refuse any request to work more than 44 hours / week.
- Work Time – employment between 6 a.m. and midnight during school term; during school vacations, minors may work until 1 a.m.
Place and Type of Employment
- Minors are prohibited from working in establishments where alcoholic beverages are produced, sold, or dispensed. Except:
- Minors under 16 may be employed at a recreational establishment (e.g., golf course, amusement park) where alcohol is served, provided the minor is not handling or serving alcohol.
- Minors over 16 may work in the part of the establishment where alcohol is not served or in a hotel, club, or restaurant provided the minor is not handling or serving alcohol.
- Minor employees are prohibited from working in occupations designated as “hazardous” by state or federal law – e.g., machinery, electrical work, explosives, demolition.
- Minors are prohibited from engaging in “youth peddling” – e.g., selling or promoting of goods or services to customers at locations other than the employer’s establishment.
- The PCLA establishes specific guidelines for children working in the entertainment industry or in other performance-related employment.
Work Permits and Work Authorizations
- In order to work, a minor must have a valid work permit issued by the school district in which the minor resides. The type of work permit required varies based on the age of the minor.
- If the minor is under the age of 16, the employer must obtain a written statement from the minor’s parent or legal guardian acknowledging understanding of the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work. This form prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (“L&I”) is one way to satisfy this obligation.
Employer’s Notice, Posting, and Recordkeeping Obligations
- Within 5 days of the minor’s start date, the employer must provide written notice of employment to the school district issuing the permit. The PCLA sets forth the specific content that must be included in this notice. Written notice must also be provided within 5 days of the minor’s termination of employment.
- Employers employing minors are required to post, in a conspicuous place, the new “Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions” prepared by L&I and updated to reflect these changes.
- Employer must maintain at the place of employment a list of all minors employed, the schedule for each minor (including the daily and weekly hours worked and rest breaks taken), copies of the minor’s work permit, and any required parental authorizations. (NOTE: These recordkeeping requirements are in addition to those imposed by the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.)
The PCLA imposes criminal penalties on employers for intentional violations of the Act and failure to produce the required records. In addition to criminal penalties, the PCLA also creates administrative penalties that may be imposed where criminal penalties are not pursued.