Ask Avvo: My 14-year-old wants a job — is she too young?

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Q: My daughter, a high school freshman, wants to get a part-time job to earn some spending money. She seems too young to me, but what are the actual laws and restrictions regarding teenage workers?

A: Employment laws are imposed by both the federal and state governments. Federal employment laws provide a minimum threshold, and state laws may supplement and expand, but never diminish, federal regulations. If your daughter is a high school freshman, chances are she is around age 14. Under federal law, age 14 is a pivotal threshold age with regard to the types of jobs a child can pursue.

For a child under age 14, the job pool is limited. Federal laws allow this age group to deliver newspapers, babysit occasionally or work as an actor or performer. Children in this group may also engage in certain agricultural activities or work for their parents, provided the job does not involve mining or manufacturing.

Children who are at least 14 can work a wider variety of jobs, including retail, creative work, errand running, yard work, food service and lifeguarding. However, there are still hourly restrictions in place. Those over 14 may only work outside school hours and cannot work more than three hours on a school day, which includes Fridays, or more than 18 hours per week during the school year.

In the summer months, the teen can work up to eight hours per day but no more than 40 hours per week. In addition, children in this age group cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. The night restriction is extended to 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.

In most circumstances, an employer must pay a minor at least federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage, if it is higher. However, in certain instances, employers are within their rights to pay a child worker just $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of work.

The above rules are provided by the Department of Labor, and your state laws may impose greater protections for your teenager as she embarks on her first job.