The Inside Scoop - Teen Work Permits

Work Rules - 14-15 Year-Olds

Now that you are 14 or 15 you can begin to find work with a wider variety of businesses. Getting a work permit will be easy for you once you find the right job. You should know, however, that there are still many rules and laws that apply to the kind of work that you can do at this age. Until you are over 18 you can't work in a meat packing plant. You also can't work where there is exposure to radiation. But, hey - do you really want to do this kind of work anyway?

There are plenty of great opportunities for you out there but you should read the federal guidelines below to get a good idea of what you won't be able to do because of government laws. Remember, these rules are designed to protect you and if you find an employer who is trying to make you do illegal work it is within your rights to say no! Also remember that the summary below relates to the US federal laws. The laws in your state may be more strict, so consult your local guidance counselor for more information.

Here are the guidelines:

No worker under 18 may:

  • Operate a forklift at any time.
  • Operate many types of powered equipment like a circular saw, box crusher, meat slicer, or bakery machine.
  • Work in wrecking, demolition, excavation, or roofing.
  • Work in mining, logging, or a sawmill.
  • Work in meat-packing or slaughtering.
  • Work where there is exposure to radiation.
  • Work where explosives are manufactured or stored.
  • Recent changes in the law state that minors under 17 may not drive a motor vehicle; 17-year-olds may drive occasionally, if they meet certain requirements.

Also, no one 14- or 15-years-old may:

  • Bake or cook on the job (except at a serving counter).
  • Operate power-driven machinery (except certain types that pose little hazard such as those used in offices).
  • Work on a ladder or scaffold.
  • Work in warehouses.
  • Work in construction, building, or manufacturing.
  • Load or unload a truck, railroad car, or conveyor. Federal Child Labor Laws also have guidelines for the hours that a teenager may work.

For young workers between the ages of 14 and 15, work hours are as follows:

  • Not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1 and not after 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day.
  • Not during school hours

Maximum hours when school is in session are as follows:

  • 18 hours a week, but not over:
  • 3 hours a day on school days
  • 8 hours a day Saturday, Sunday, and holidays

Maximum hours when school is NOT in session are as follows:

  • 40 hours a week
  • 8 hours a day

Did You Also Know - By Law Employers Must Provide:

  • A safe and healthful workplace.
  • Safety and health training, in many situations, including providing information about chemicals that could be harmful to your health.
  • For many jobs, payment for medical care if you get hurt or sick because of your job. You may also be entitled to lost wages.
  • At least the minimum wage of $7.25/hour to most teens, after their first 90 days on the job. Many States have a higher minimum wage than the Federal wage. Lower wages may be allowed when workers receive tips from customers, provided that the tip plus the wage is equal to minimum wage. (Call your State Department of Labor listed in this guide for information on minimum wage in your State or visit

This information was reproduced with permission from the CDC Promoting Safe Work for Young Workers Site at