Work Restrictions for Minors 

Q.       We are a moving and storage company with offices in multiple states. If we were to hire minors (say 16- or 17-years' old), are there any limitations to the hours and duties they could perform?

A.       Generally speaking, the hour limitations for 16- or 17-year-olds are similar under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. However, the type of work these minors are allowed to do is limited. Specifically, the DOL prohibits hiring minors to work in hazardous occupations or one it finds to be detrimental to minors’ health like mining, forestry and roofing.

There are no hourly restrictions under Idaho law, as in many other states like Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas. These states do not place any limitations on the type of work 16- and 17-year-olds can perform. State laws for duty limitations on 16- and 17-year-olds in other states are generally consistent with DOL regulations, but some specifically address individual state interests. For instance, Montana’s prohibitions for minors working in dangerous professions include, but are not limited to, logging and meat packing, unless they are student learners. In Nevada, minors are prohibited from distributing promotional materials that include alcoholic beverages for businesses like gaming establishments, saloons and resorts. Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and others also have regulations on the type of work minors can perform.

Be advised, though, that some states, like California, Florida and Arkansas do have hourly limitations that are more stringent than federal law. Some state laws, like those in Maine, also address starting and ending times, and in a few states, including Utah and Pennsylvania, laws specifically address the expectation on breaks and meal periods for 16- and 17-year-olds. Generally, the state hour limitations appear in various forms, including maximum hours per pay period and constraints on starting and ending times. Maine is an example of maximum allowed hours per pay period. Minors who are enrolled in school and are 16- or 17-years-old cannot work more than 50 hours a week, or 10 hours a day while school is not in session, and no more than 24 hours a week or six hours per day otherwise. Many state laws can also prescribe the amount of consecutive days worked for minors or specifically allow certain hours when subsequent days are not school days.

Although the additional state regulations for 16- and 17-year-olds are generally lenient in many states, your business should be aware that almost every state has rigorous regulations for minors under the age of 16, including Idaho. Therefore, it is recommended that you review the state regulations in each state you operate, especially if you are considering hiring minors under 16 years old.  

Jason R. Mau is an attorney in the Boise office of Parsons Behle & Latimer. He can be reached at 208-562-4898 or Special thanks to Maoyu Wang who assisted on this article. Maoyu (Roy) served as a 2021 summer associate with Parsons Behle & Latimer and is currently a 2L at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.