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How does federal law address DC child labor?

For better or worse, most people in Washington, D.C., remember getting their first job. It is a right of passage for many. However, it is important to remember that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has child labor law provisions that dictate the hours and types of work a minor can perform.

Today, we are going to focus on nonagricultural work, as special rules apply to agricultural work. Since individuals who are 18-years-old or older are considered adults, they may perform any type of work for any number of hours.

Things are different for minors who are ages 16 and 17. These individuals can work any number of hours, but only in occupations where the work is considered nonhazardous.

Next, we come to minors who are ages 14 and 15. These individuals can perform jobs that are nonhazardous and are not in the mining or manufacturing sectors. Nonetheless, on school days, these individual's work hours are limited to three hours maximum. If it is not a school day, these individuals may not work more than eight hours. Similarly, within a school week, these individuals may not work more than 18 hours. If it is not a school week, these individuals are limited to a workweek of 40 hours. Moreover, these individuals cannot begin work prior to 7:00 in the morning or work after 7:00 in the evening. The only exceptions to this are the dates spanning from the first day of June through Labor Day. During this time, minors who are 14 or 15 can work until 9:00 p.m.

A minor can perform some jobs at any age. This includes acting in the theater, on TV, in movies or performing on the radio. In addition, if the minor's parents have a solely owned business that is not a farm, that is not hazardous or that is not in manufacturing, a minor may work for that business at any age.

Earning one's first paycheck is a special thing, but it is important that child labor laws are followed. The purpose of such provisions is to protect a minor's opportunities about his or her education and to protect the minor's health and general well-being from dangerous occupations. Since this post is not a substitute for legal advice, those with questions about the employment of minors should seek the professional advice they need to have these questions answered.

Source:, "FLSA Reference Guide," accessed on June 22, 2015

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