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Employment of minors in California

Employers in California need to be aware of regulations related to the employment of minors. The laws vary from wage requirements to school attendance policies, and the consequences of breaking these laws can be major.

According to the C.O.R.E. Charter School, children as young as 12 can work, although nonfarm employment is prohibited for those under the age of 14. The state lays out specific requirements related to working on school days, the maximum number of hours allowed per day and limits on how early and late minors can work. Certain occupations are prohibited for all minors under the age of 18 due to their hazardous conditions. These include:

  • Roofing
  • Coal mining
  • Demolition
  • Radiation exposure
  • Logging
  • Power baking machines

According to the California government, penalties for breaching these laws fall into two categories. Infringements that are considered more severe are placed in Class A. These include violations related to hazardous conditions, door-to-door sales and working too many hours in a day. The penalty for a Class A violation ranges from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000 for each breach and each minor employee. Depending on the violation, employers may also be responsible for criminal penalties, which may include jail time instead of, or along with, fines. 

Class B infringements relate to violations regarding the type and number of work hours, work permits, the entertainment industry and others that do not fall into Class A. The fines range from $500 to $1,000 per employee per breach. For more details on California laws and penalties, employers can contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.


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