Missouri Child Labor Laws - Dispelling the Myths
With the arrival of spring, many teens begin to think about summer employment. Before your teen begins his/her job search, be sure you know and understand Missouri’s Child Labor Laws. Child labor laws were created to promote safety and health in the workplace and prohibit youth from working long hours, which can jeopardize their development and education.
Missouri's child labor law applies to youth under the age of 16 and permits the employment of 14 and 15 year olds. Children under age 14 are not allowed to work any job, unless it is in the entertainment industry, and permission is obtained from the Missouri Labor Department. Delivery/sales of newspapers, child care, occasional yard/farm work, coach/referee in youth's sporting event - all allowed for children 12 and older. Below are some common myths regarding child labor laws.
Myth #1: There’s no limit to the number of hours youth may work
It is a huge misconception that young people can work as many hours in a work week as their parent/legal guardian allows. In fact, there are limits to the number of hours in a day or week that a teen may work. During the school year, youth may not work after 7 p.m. on school nights, and no more than 6 days a week. During the summer, youth may not work after 9 p.m. and no more than 40 hours a week. The chart below outlines the complete work restrictions.
*If employed at a regional fair between June 1 and Labor Day, 14 and 15 year olds may work until 10:30 p.m.
Myth #2: All employees are allowed breaks
Breaks are not a workplace guarantee. Missouri law does not require employers to provide employees, including youth workers, a break of any kind, including a lunch hour. However, most employers allow their employees to take breaks.
The entertainment industry, however, DOES require breaks and rest periods for youth workers. A youth cannot work more than five and one-half hours without a meal break. Additionally, a 15 minute rest period (which counts as work time) is required after each two hours of continuous work for youth in the entertainment industry.
Myth #3: The school has no say in a youth’s employment
Prior to starting employment at any job (other than in the entertainment industry) during the school year, youth 14 and 15 years of age are required to obtain a work certificate. Work certificates are issued by school superintendents or their designees. The school superintendent has the right to deny a certificate if deemed not in the best interest of the youth.
Work certificates also are required for private or home-schooled youth. Under Missouri law, it is required that work certificates are issued and signed by the superintendent of public schools in the district where the child lives. A work certificate is required even when a youth works under the supervision of a parent/ legal guardian. The only exemption is when the business is owned by the parent/legal guardian and the child works under the direct control of the parent/legal guardian. If the parent/legal guardian only acts as the youth’s supervisor, then the law requiring a work permit still applies. Work certificates may be revoked or not issued at the request of school officials if they feel work is unfavorable to a youth's education.
A work permit is required for youth under the age of 16 who work in the entertainment industry. A child under 16 may work in the entertainment industry if the director of the Missouri Division of Labor Standards issues the work permit. No permit will be issued without proof of age, a permission form from the parent/legal guardian, and a written statement from the prospective employer setting out the nature and expected duration of employment. The employer must keep the work permit and the statement as to the nature and duration of the employment on file. A work permit generally can be received within 48 hours.
Myth #4: There are no restrictions to the type of jobs youth can work
Inexperience in the workplace and dangerous or hazardous work conditions are all safety concerns for the Missouri Labor Department. In an effort to keep our youth safe, the Department prohibits youth from working any job dangerous to the life, limb, health, or morals of young people. The chart below lists the type of jobs that are acceptable and unacceptable for youth employment. It also lists whether a certificate or work permit is required.
Additional federal restrictions regarding child labor laws and youth employment also may apply. To learn more visit www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/Title_29/Part_570/29CFR570.50.htm.
To learn more about youth employment in Missouri, visit www.labor.mo.gov/dls/youthemployment