Changes to Child Labor Laws in Pennsylvania – Effective January 22, 2013

A major overhaul of Pennsylvania’s child labor laws becomes effective January 22, 2013. The new Child Labor Act establishes the ages at which minors may work, the number of hours they may work both during the school year and during school vacation periods, and revises the work permit process. It also provides for fines and potential imprisonment for violations. The Act also adds new sections addressing children who are paid performers in television and other media productions and who are sports attendants for professional athletic teams.

All Pennsylvania employers who employ individuals under the age of 18 should become familiar with the pertinent provisions of the Child Labor Act.

Age and Time Limitations:

  1. With very limited exceptions, minors under the age of 14 are not eligible for employment. Those exceptions are golf course caddying and newspaper delivery. The Child Labor Act also does not apply to domestic service (babysitting, chores such as lawn care, snow shoveling, etc., done on a casual or infrequent basis) or any agricultural employment exempt from coverage under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
  2. Minors who are 14 or 15 years old may be employed no more than three hours per day during the school year and no more than eight hours per day during vacation periods. They may be employed no more than 18 hours per week during the school year and no more than 40 hours per week during vacation periods. Hours of work are limited to between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. during the school year and between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. during vacation periods.
  3. Minors who are 16 or 17 years old may be employed no more than eight hours per day during the school year and no more than ten hours per day during vacation periods. They may be employed no more than 28 hours per week during the school year and no more than 48 hours per week during vacation periods (any hours over 44 in a week must be consented to by the minors, who may refuse without fear of retaliation). They may be employed only between 6 a.m. and 12 midnight during the school year and between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. during vacation periods. If employed as a camp counselor, they must have 24 consecutive hours of rest in each seven-day period.


All minors must receive an uninterrupted 30-minute break after five hours of work.

Prohibited/Restricted Occupations:

  1. Alcohol-related establishments: Generally minors may not be employed where alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed or produced. Minors who are 16 or 17 years old may work at ski resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, or similar venues so long as they are not permitted to handle or serve alcoholic beverages and are not employed in areas where the beverages are stored or served. They may also be employed in other establishments so long as they are not employed in the part of the establishment where alcoholic beverages are served. Note, however, that they may serve food, clear tables, and perform related duties in hotels, clubs or restaurants that have valid permits for Sunday sales from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
  2. Minors may not work in any occupations or establishments designated hazardous or otherwise prohibited under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
  3. Minors also may not work in certain positions on boats or vessels, for railroads, or where paint or dyes are manufactured using dangerous leads or acids. They may not sort or strip tobacco, work on scaffolding, or in a tunnel.
  4. Minors under 16 years of age may not be employed or permitted to conduct “youth peddling,” i.e., street sales and promotions.
  5. Minors who are 16 or 17 years old do not need work permits if they are engaged in distribution, sale, or offering for sale of newspapers.

Work Permit/Record Keeping Requirements:

  1. Employers may not employ minors unless they have work permits issued by appropriate local school district authorities and signed, verified parental consent for minors under age 16. Employers may not employ a minor until they have verified the work permit and received an original copy of the signed, verified parental consent.
  2. Within five days after employment begins, employers must notify the officer who issued the work permit in writing of the fact of employment of a minor, detailing the normal duties and hours of employment, including the age and permit number of the minor.
  3. Employers must post an abstract of the child labor law.
  4. Employers of minors must keep the following records at the workplace: (a) a list of all minors employed; (b) schedules of minors’ hours of work containing the maximum number of hours each minor is permitted to work daily and weekly; and (c) daily scheduled stop, start, and break times. Employers must keep a copy of each minors’ work permit in their records and an original version of parental consent form for 14 and 15 year-old employees.
  5. Enforcement officers must be provided access to the records at reasonable times.

Violations and Penalties:

It is a violation of the Child Labor Act to interfere with an enforcement officer’s functions, compel or permit minors to violate the Act, fail to provide records, falsify records, or violate the terms of any work permit. Violations are considered summary offenses and are subject to $500 fines per offense. Repeat violators are subject to $1500 fines and up to ten days imprisonment. The Department of Labor and Industry may also impose administrative penalties of up to $5000 per violation but not for violations for which a person has already been sentenced for a summary violation.

For More Information

If you have questions about compliance with the new Child Labor Act, please contact Joseph P. Hofmann at 717.399.6643 or the Stevens & Lee labor and employment attorney with whom you normally speak.

This News Alert has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter. For more information, please see the disclaimer.