Child Labor Laws for 16 Year Olds

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Many teenagers want a job while they're in high school. There are laws in place to help protect them from unsafe workplaces or work that may interfere with their schooling. Most of these laws are meant for 14 and 15 year olds. Laws for 16 year olds have far more flexibility.


For the purposes of the laws, labor is broken into farm work, hazardous occupations and "other."

Hazardous Work

Jobs that 16 year olds may not do according to federal law include metalworking; handling machinery including saws, forklifts and cranes; working with radioactive or explosive items, and working in slaughtering, rendering or meat-packing plants. Jobs in construction and logging are also included in the list.

Federal Law

Sixteen year olds who want to hold a job are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.


If your 16 year old is in a vocational program, he should be able to obtain an exemption for jobs normally considered hazardous.


States have the option of imposing their own laws in additional to the federal laws. State laws should be found on the specific state's Department of Labor website.


Some towns and cities may choose to restrict the movement of minors with a curfew. Teenagers may want to have proof of employment if they're working late at night.