Federal law closely regulates employment of minors, imposing special restrictions on the terms and conditions of employment and additional administrative duties on employers. Employers must be especially careful to strictly comply with these laws because violators are subject to stiff fines. Colorado does not have any separate regulations regarding the employment of minors, so Colorado employers should carefully follow the federal regulations.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) child labor provisions are intended to ensure that children have the opportunity to obtain an education and prevent them from being employed in occupations and under conditions that may be harmful to their health or well-being.
To meet these goals, the FLSA includes restrictions on hours of work for minors under 16 and prohibits employers from hiring minors in hazardous occupations. Different restrictions apply to agricultural and nonagricultural employment.
For work other than farming, the legal hours of work and degree of hazard are as follows:
For farming work, the permissible hours and degree of hazard are as follows:
Employment of minors is prohibited in occupations that are potentially hazardous or detrimental to the minor’s health. Whether an occupation is considered hazardous sometimes depends on the age of the minor.
All minors are prohibited from working in occupations such as:
In addition to those activities prohibited from all minors, employees under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in additional occupations, including:
Minors under 16 are permitted to perform non-hazardous work such as office work in these industries.
Minor employees who are under 17 years of age may not drive automobiles or trucks on public roadways. However, employees who are 17 years of age or older may drive automobiles or trucks on public roadways if:
Driving is considered “occasional” and “incidental” when it involves no more than one‑third of an employee’s workday or no more than 20% of any workweek.
Employers who violate the child labor laws may be fined by the DOL up to $14,050 per worker for each violation of the child labor provisions. Further, employers may be fined $63,855 for each violation that causes the death or serious injury of a minor employee; such penalty may be doubled, up to $127,710, if the violation is determined to be willful or repeated. The FLSA also provides for criminal fines of up to $10,000 upon conviction for a willful violation, with additionally penalties imposed for repeat violations. For a second conviction for a willful violation, the FLSA provides for a fine of not more than $10,000 and imprisonment for up to six months or both.
Size of employer, the seriousness of the violation and the likelihood that the employer will comply with the law in the future are taken into account in determining the amount of a fine.
The federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for a minor to be employed. Many states, however, do require them for workers of certain ages. The DOL will issue age certificates if the minor employee's state does not issue them or if the minor is requested by his or her employer to provide one. However, the vast majority of age certificates are issued by states.
The purpose of these certificates is to protect the employer from prosecution for employing an under-aged worker. The possession of an age certificate constitutes a good faith effort to comply with minimum age requirements.
Because penalties are severe for child labor violations, employers should familiarize themselves with all relevant federal laws prior to employing a minor.
About the Author
About the Contributors
About the Firm
Appendix A: Recordkeeping requirements
Appendix B: Posting requirements
Background checks — Colorado
Benefits — Colorado
Celebrating in the workplace — Colorado
Child labor — Colorado
Compliance thresholds — Colorado
Disabilities and reasonable accommodation — Colorado
Disaster planning — Colorado
Discipline — Colorado
Discrimination — Colorado
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace — Colorado
Family and medical leave — Colorado
Features of the HR Library
Federal contractors and affirmative action — Colorado
Health insurance continuation coverage — Colorado
Health insurance portability and privacy — Colorado
Health insurance reform — Colorado
Immigration — Colorado
Independent contractors — Colorado
Marijuana — Colorado
Military leave — Colorado
Other types of leave — Colorado
Pandemic Preparedness — Colorado
Performance evaluations — Colorado
Personnel files — Colorado
Plant closings and mass layoffs — Colorado
Policies and procedures manuals — Colorado
Politics in the workplace — Colorado
Privacy rights — Colorado
Public Employers — Colorado
Recruiting and hiring — Colorado
Restrictive covenants and trade secrets — Colorado
Safety and health — Colorado
Snapshot – An HR audit — Colorado
Social media — Colorado
Technology and the Internet — Colorado
Telecommuting — Colorado
Temporary, leased and franchise employees — Colorado
Termination — Colorado
Unemployment insurance — Colorado
Unions — Colorado
Wages and hours — Colorado
Whistleblower protections — Colorado
Workers' compensation — Colorado
Workplace harassment — Colorado
Workplace investigations — Colorado
Workplace violence — Colorado