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Child Labor Laws in Pennsylvania

January 4, 2024 Worker Misclassification

How They Protect Minors

Pennsylvania child labor laws place strict restrictions on how and when employers can hire minor employees. Child labor is also covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at the federal level, and where the laws overlap, the stricter version of the law is the one in force. 

Occupations Prohibited by the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law (CLL)  

The Pennsylvania Child Labor Law restricts the employment of workers under the age of 18 by limiting both the duties they can perform and the hours they can work.

Minors under the age of 14 generally cannot be employed at all, except in certain situations such as those working on farms or as caddies, news carriers, or performers. 

Some occupations are prohibited for workers under the age of 18 across the board. These are mostly positions that come with a certain amount of hazard. They include trades such as woodworking, welding, and electrical work, construction jobs such as crane operators and roofers, as well as work in mills and in the forest service.

There are also prohibitions on employing minors in certain circumstances, again mostly relating to hazardous jobs. Examples include:

  • Places where alcohol is being produced, served, or sold
  • Jobs on boats and using machinery including baking machinery
  • Industries such as the tanning, riveting, printing, and paper industries
  • Jobs that involve exposure to radioactive substances
  • Jobs that involve mining and quarrying
  • Positions in the railroad industry

There are some exceptions to these prohibitions for student learners, laboratory student aides, apprentices, and graduates of vocational, technical and industrial programs that train for these occupations.

There are further restrictions on the jobs a minor can do if they’re under 16. They are prohibited from work under additional occupations and situations, including:

  • In freezers and meat coolers
  • As amusement park ride operators
  • As cooks with certain exceptions
  • On highways
  • In manufacturing and pattern-making
  • In public utilities
  • In construction in any capacity
  • On coal dredges, railroads, conveyors, and trucks
  • As lifeguards
  • In storage and warehousing

Minors in the Entertainment Industry 

Minors often work in the entertainment industry in Pennsylvania and elsewhere; however, there are restrictions on that work. In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful to hire minors in entertainment doing the following work:

  • Performing stunts or acts, including dangerous acrobatic acts
  • Using or being exposed to hazardous weapons and pyrotechnics
  • Hazardous activities involving height, speed, intense physical exertion, and any spectacular stunts or very specialized gear
  • Acts that constitute sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of minors
  • Acts that involve sparring, wrestling, or boxing, except for non-contact portrayals and athletic competitions
  • Acts involving animals, including assisting other performers, bringing an animal into the ring or onto the stage, or riding any animal that weighs more than half the child’s weight

Restrictions on the Hours a Minor Can Work

The CLL restricts the hours a minor can work, depending on the minor’s age and whether the work occurs during the school year. The hours allowed vary for minors aged 14-15 and 16-17.

The rules are also different for minors in the entertainment industry, in farming and paper delivery, and for minors who have already graduated high school or who are exempt from attendance.

Work Permits and Permissions

Minors who wish to have a job in Pennsylvania have to apply for a work permit before they can start working. In addition, those under 16 also need written permission from their parent or guardian.

Minors under the age of 18 who want to work in entertainment need a separate application.

Questions About Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Laws? Ask an Attorney 

If you believe your employer is violating the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law, you should speak to a knowledgeable Pennsylvania employment attorney. 

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.