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Are labor laws different for minors?

If minors want to work in California, there are federal and state rules that regulate how many hours they can work, school attendance, restricted occupations and wages. Employers who do not follow these laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

According to the Department of Labor, a minor is considered to be anyone under the age of 18. The Fair Labor Standards Act outlines certain jobs that minors may not work, and these include ones that pose hazardous risks. Some of these jobs include the operation of a vehicle or powered equipment, excavating, mining and making explosives. 

Although the federal government says a child needs to be at least 14 years old to work, the State of California allows children younger than that to work, but there are stricter restrictions and guidelines for their employment. Before starting work, a minor must get a permit, and this is usually authorized and issued by someone at the child's school. Minors who are school-aged are required to attend school on a full-time basis except in certain circumstances.

The types of job a minor may work, and the number of hours each day they are allowed to work, are defined by the age of the child. Employers who violate these laws, or hire a minor to work in restricted occupations, face strict penalties. Depending on the type of violation, the employer may be required to pay anywhere from $500 to $10,000 for each infringement. For a criminal violation, the employer may owe fines as well as serve jail time of up to six months.





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