2015 Blog Paperboy picThe U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enacted in 1938, established a number of standards regarding employment, including the eight-hour workday, the 40-hour workweek, the federal minimum wage and the right to overtime pay. It also set a number of standards pertaining to youth employment in an effort to reduce child labor and exploitation. Here’s a look at some of what the FLSA does for younger workers:

Minimum age

The FLSA establishes age restrictions related to employment. For example, those under the age of 14 cannot work except in roles exempt from the FLSA, 14- and 15-year-olds may work limited hours in non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs and 16- and 17-year-olds may work unlimited hours in non-hazardous jobs. Upon reaching 18 years of age, a person is treated as an adult for employment purposes.

Hazardous jobs

The definition of “hazardous jobs,” per the FLSA, includes those positions that are “particularly hazardous” for minors, or “detrimental to their health or well-being.” Industries either totally or mostly off limits to young workers include mining, construction, meat processing, lumber and manufacturing.

Working hours

Although there are no limitations on working hours for those 16 and older, 14- and 15-year-olds are restricted in terms of when and how long they may work. For starters, they cannot work during school hours and are barred from working more than three hours on a school day, including Fridays. They cannot work more than eight hours on a non-school day.

Their workweeks are also limited to 18 hours during the school year and 40 hours during summer or other break periods. Finally, younger workers may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (or 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day).

Special programs

In addition to identifying restrictions and limitations related to youth employment, the FLSA also establishes some programs geared toward 14- and 15-year-olds to better prepare them for future employment. One of these is the Work Experience and Career Exploration Program, which serves young people in need of career-focused educational opportunities and encourages the completion of necessary schooling in preparation for the working life. There are also work-study programs for young people enrolled in college prep courses. These students must be identified as potentially benefiting from a work-study opportunity by a qualified school.

Running afoul of the FLSA is not something any business owner is eager to do. If you have questions or concerns related to your company and its compliance with FLSA guidelines, contact a knowledgeable and experienced employment law attorney to learn more about how the law applies to your industry and what it means for your organization.


BoltNagi is a widely respected business and employment law firm proudly serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.