Under the Texas Child Labor Act, it’s illegal for employers to hire children under 14 years of age. The law applies to all employers and situations except to children who are:
- Employed in their parent’s business (if it’s not hazardous).
- Over age 11 who deliver newspapers.
- In approved and school-supervised work-study programs.
- Working in agriculture, as long as they’re not legally required to be attending school.
- In judge-supervised rehabilitation programs.
- Engaged in nonhazardous, casual employment with their parent’s permission (e.g., selling Girl Scout cookies).
Under the Texas law, youth ages 14 and 15 aren’t allowed to work more than eight hours a day, or more than 48 hours in a single week. During the school year, children ages 14 and 15 can’t work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on a day following a school day, or later than midnight on a nonschool night.
Teens older than age 16 don’t face any restrictions on the number of hours they can work. But there’s a long list of dangerous jobs that 16- to 18-year-olds aren’t allowed to perform, including roofing, mining, boiler room work and logging.
In addition, the law allows 14- and 15-year-olds to work in office settings, food service operations and gas stations, but prohibits them from performing hazardous tasks, such as operating deep fryers, baking ovens and meat-slicing equipment.
Tip: The federal Fair Labor Standards Act also sets child labor rules. To read up on those regulations, go to www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor. If cases where the state and federal laws bump heads, the more employee-friendly statute typically wins out.
Excerpted from Texas' 10 Most Critical Employment Laws, a special bonus report available to subscribers of HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law.