Your 15-year-old announced that they want to go to work with a friend at the car wash on weekends. After the initial shock and a few conversations later, you’ve concluded that they are mature enough to strike a healthy balance between their school studies and their job. “They are growing up,” you think resignedly, and agree to let the job hunt continue.

However, before your minor child proceeds any further in their employment endeavors, they will need a statement of age and working papers. Also, importantly, there are child labor laws that apply to teenagers in every state, and those laws can vary greatly. What follows is what parents need to know about jobs for 15-year-olds in Connecticut.

The Child Labor Act of 1938

Before the mid-1900s, workers in the United States, including children, toiled in dangerous conditions for very long hours. Sweeping legislation was enacted in 1938 placing restrictions that governed the way people work. It came in the form of a new labor law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA reformed employment standards and stopped the exploitation of child laborers.

The FLSA sets the age of 14 as the minimum age for employment as a general rule. It also limits the number of hours minors under the age of 16 can work. Furthermore, the FLSA also ensures that when these youngsters do work, the job tasks they perform and the hours they work do not endanger their health, well-being and chances for an education.

Federal and State Minimum Standards

Federal law sets the minimum standard of permitted employment for 15-year-olds, but it also allows states to set more stringent and more protective standards for minors. Connecticut does this for some types of jobs, but it does not for others, thereby allowing the federal minimum standards to apply.

Job Types for 15-Year-Olds in Connecticut

For jobs excluding agriculture, federal law permits 15-year-olds to work a limited amount of hours, outside of school hours, in various non-mining, and non-hazardous jobs. Federal law and Connecticut state law allows youths aged 15 to work in the following nine types of jobs:

  1. Hospitals and nursing homes, exempting laundry and food services
  2. B&Bs, hotels and motels, exempting laundry and food services
  3. Banking institutions
  4. Insurance corporations
  5. Legal offices (CPAs, lawyers etc.)
  6. Municipalities (library attendants, parks & recreation etc.),
  7. Acting
  8. Household chores and yard work for private homeowners
  9. Licensed summer and day camps

According to analysts, few industries hire 15-year-olds for these jobs, even though it is allowable. The main reason employers cited is because it is challenging to fill job slots with the restrictions placed on these minors.

Special Workdays and Hours in CT

Federal law states that 15-year-olds may work in the following situations:

  • When school is in session or during school hours.
  • Prior to 7 am or later than 7 pm, with the exception from July 1 to Labor Day; during that time, hours 15-year-olds can work are extended to 9 pm.
  • For more than three hours a day on school days, or greater than eight hours on days there is no school.
  • For more than 18 hours per week when school is in session or greater than 40 hours in weeks that school is not in session.

State Exceptions, Prohibitions and Restrictions

Connecticut state law prohibits all youths under the age of 16 from working in the following industries: Theatrical (except for acting) bowling alleys, manufacturing, mercantile (retail), restaurants and mechanical. Moreover, CT state law does allow for some exceptions when it comes to these prohibitions.

For example, an exception to the law allows teens aged 15 to work in retail industries, which expired in 2007. The law, PA 08–108, put this exception back in place, and teens that fall into this category can now work as cashiers, baggers and stock clerks in the retail industry.

Under PA 08-108 it is permissible for 15-year-olds to work:

  • When school isn’t in session for, at the very least, five days in a row, except in cases where a 15-year-old may work in retail food companies on any Saturday.
  • For up to eight hours daily (40 hours/week).
  • Between the hours of 7 am to 7 pm, with the exception from July 1 to Labor Day, during that time, hours 15-year-olds can work are extended to 9 pm.

The limit on hours a 15-year-old can work is more protective in Connecticut than at the federal level. Federal rules permit minors under 16 to work up to 18 hours a school week.

Connecticut law also makes exceptions that permit 15-year-olds employment in the following industries:

  1. Agriculture.
  2. Private and city golf courses (golf caddie, pro shop work etc.).
  3. Street trades (window washing, shoe shining, etc.).
  4. Domestic services (housecleaning, cooking, babysitting).
  5. Newspaper (paper delivery).

FLSA & Agricultural Occupations

Federal law permits 12-year-olds and up to work in agriculture jobs outside of school hours if they have written consent of their parent or in cases where the minor’s parent also has a job on a farm.

Laws at the federal level also allow minors 14-years and up to work in any agricultural occupation except for those deemed hazardous by the United States Secretary of Labor. State law allows employers to pay minors employed on farms less than the state minimum hourly wage.

Penalties for Violating Child Labor Provisions

Employers that violate child labor provisions outlined in the FLSA can be subjected to some hefty penalties. In fact, there is rigorous enforcement for violations, and civil money penalties can be up to $10,000 for each employee subjected to the breach.

Helpful Links

Frequently asked questions about minors in the workplace.

CT DOL Employment of Minors

Youth Minimum Wage – Fair Labor Standards Act

Checklist for Minors Applying for CT Statement of Age/Working Papers

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