Minnesota employers must comply with the state’s extensive child labor regulations, enforced by the Department of Labor & Industry (www.doli.state.mn.us).
Minors under age 14 may work only as:
- Newspaper carriers (must be at least 11 years old)
- Agriculture workers (must be at least 12 years old and have parental consent)
- Actors or models
- Youth athletic program referees (must be at least 11 years old and have parental consent).
Minors under age 16 may not work before 7 am or after 9 pm when school is not in session, with the exception of newspaper carriers. They may not work more than 40 hours per week or more than eight hours during any 24-hour period, except those working in agriculture.
During the school year, federal law restricts their hours to no later than 7 pm, no more than three hours per day and only 18 hours per week. Under no circumstances may minors under age 16 work during school hours.
High school students ages 16 and 17 may not work past 11 pm on school nights or before 5 am on school days. If parents give permission, they can stretch those hours to 11:30 pm and 4:30 am, respectively.
Workers under age 18 may not serve, dispense or handle intoxicating liquors that are consumed on the premises. In restaurants that serve alcohol, youth at least 17 years old may bus tables or wash dishes, and musicians must be at least 16 years old to perform. Note: The state does not restrict minors from selling tobacco products.
State law prohibits minors from working around hazardous materials (such as flammable, toxic or explosive chemicals or fireworks) or in these hazardous occupations:
- Logging or lumbering operations
- Paper mills, saw mills, lathe mills, shingle mills, mines, quarries, or sand and gravel pits
- Construction or building projects or ice harvesting operations
- Jobs working more than 12 feet off the ground or around oxyacetylene or oxyhydrogen welding operations.
Generally, minors may not operate common-carrier vehicles such as boats, buses or taxicabs. (They may work as tour guides on vehicles operated by adults.)
Minors may not operate nonautomatic elevators, work on amusement park rides or perform in aerial or acrobatic acts. They must be Red Cross-certified to work as lifeguards.
In addition, workers age 16 and younger may not operate any machinery, including laundry equipment, power-driven snowblowers or lawn equipment, floor sanders and scrubbers. If they work at car washes, they may not attach or detach cars from automatic conveyor belts. Also, they may not work as helpers in transportation-related fields such as on airport landing strips, taxiways or airplane maintenance (similar restrictions apply for ground vehicles).
Caution: Employers face steep fines for child labor violations, ranging from $250 for each minor employed without proof of age to $1,000 for hiring minors to work in hazardous occupations or environments. Repeat offenders also risk getting a criminal record because state law defines repeat offenses as gross misdemeanors.
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