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Are teenagers' part time jobs considered child labor?

It can be embarrassing to admit, but there is a certain relief when your teenage child gets his or her part time job. Part time jobs not only provide teenagers with their own source of income so that they no longer drain so much of their parents' funds, but teach them maturity, responsibility and appreciation for the work you do - while getting them out from underfoot during some of the most frustrating developmental years of their lives. But if your teenage child works full time, are their employers practicing illegal child labor under California law?

The answer is more complicated than a simple "yes" or "no." Technically, according to the California Department of industrial Relations, nearly all resident minors under the age of 18 are protected by California's child labor laws. Under California law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, anyone under the age of 18 wishing to work must secure a work permit and a certificate of age. Permits are issued by your child's local school district, and must be renewed each year.

The age at which minors can obtain permits to work can be as low as 12 or as high as 16, depending on circumstances, and many regulations bar children under 14 from working in certain roles or industries. It is mandatory that employers pay teenagers a minimum wage commensurate with adult wages.

Allowable work hours vary; for children ages 12-13 they may only work on holidays or outside the school year, while teenagers ages 14-15 may only work 3 hours per school day and eight hours on any non school day for a total of 18 hours per week while school is in session. Teenagers ages 16-17 may only work four hours per school day and eight hours on any non school day or day preceding a non school day, up to 48 hours per week. As long as your child's employer complies with these requirements, they are operating within California child labor law. Maximum allowable hours change when school is not in session.

This blog post is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

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