Labor & Employment Law

Youth Employment FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions –  Child Labor Law

At what age can a minor child work?

Generally, 14 years of age.

What are the primary requirements for minors who work?

  • Minors must be 14 to work in most jobs.
  • Minors 14 and 15:
    • must have an employment certificate,
    • have limited hours they can work, and
    • cannot work in certain jobs.
    • Minors 16 and 17 are barred from working in certain particularly hazardous jobs. Virginia Code § 40.1-100
    • Does a minor child need an employment certificate prior to beginning work?
      Yes, minors under the age of 16 must obtain an employment certificate prior to their first day of employment.

What hours can a 14 or 15 year-old work?

  • May not work more than 3 hours a day on a school day;
  • May not work more than 18 hours a week in a school week;
  • May not work more than 8 hours a day on a non-school day;
  • May not work more than 40 hours a week in a non-school week;
  • May not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except between June 1st and Labor Day, they may work as late as 9 p.m.;
  • May not work during school hours unless enrolled in a school work-training program;
  • Must be given a 30-minute rest or meal period after 5 consecutive hours of work.

Are minors prohibited from working in certain jobs?

Yes. Minors under 16 are not allowed to work in prohibited occupations, which are considered unhealthy or dangerous. Minors aged 16 and 17 are barred from working hazardous occupations. For a list of these occupations, click here.

Can civil monetary penalties be assessed against an employer?

An employer may be fined for each minor who is employed in violation of the Code and/or regulations.

What are the requirements for minors under the age of eighteen to participate in volunteer fire fighting?

The general rule is that teenagers under the age of eighteen years of age may not work in an occupation that has been declared hazardous by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. The Commissioner of Labor and Industry has declared fire fighting to be a hazardous occupation. In addition to the occupations that have been declared hazardous, child labor laws specifically prohibit teenagers under the age of eighteen from many other activities that may be involved in fire fighting. However, under Virginia Code § 40.1-79.1, minors who have attained the age of sixteen may participate fully in all activities of a volunteer fire company, if the minor has obtained Level One firefighter certification, the minor has his or her parent or guardian’s permission and there is a town, city or county ordinance in place (in the jurisdiction of residence of the minor) permitting persons sixteen years of age and older to participate under these circumstances. For more information about the Level One firefighter certification you should visit the Virginia Department of Fire Programs web site at www.vafire.com. Training to attain the Level One firefighter certification is likewise permissible for minors sixteen years of age if the minor has his or her parent or guardian’s consent and the minor’s town, city or county has adopted the aforesaid ordinance. If all of the conditions set out in this paragraph exist, then the general rule does not apply. For specific information pertaining to your locality, you will need to contact the appropriate Town or County Attorney’s office.Finally, Virginia Code § 40.1-103 states that “It shall be unlawful for any person employing or having the custody of any child willfully or negligently to cause or permit the life of such child to be endangered or the health of such child to be injured, or willfully or negligently to cause or permit such child to be placed in a situation that its life, health or morals may be endangered, or to cause or permit such child to be overworked, tortured, tormented, mutilated, beaten or cruelly treated. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.” This provision is enforced by the appropriate local Commonwealth’s Attorney, who should be contacted for his or her interpretation as to whether Virginia Code § 40.1-103 may apply even if all of the conditions of Virginia Code § 40.1-79.1 have been met.