California's Child Labor Laws: 8 Key Things to Know

California’s Child Labor Laws: 8 Key Things to Know

Navigating California’s child labor laws is essential for employers, parents, and minors. This comprehensive guide explores key features, including legal working age, job restrictions, work permit requirements, and the importance of school attendance.

It also delves into special rules for the entertainment industry and highlights workplace rights for minors.

This knowledge ensures informed decisions, compliance with legislation, and safeguards for minors in the workforce.

1. The legal working age is 14

In California, typically, the legal working age is established at 14 years old. However, the state’s labor laws do provide some exceptions, allowing minors under 14 to work certain jobs. These jobs often include odd jobs, babysitting, self-employment, and paper routes.

In the agricultural sector, if employed by a parent or guardian, minors can also participate in work activities.

A distinct feature of California’s child labor laws is the special provision for the entertainment industry. Even at a very young age, minors can become child actors, provided they have a work permit. This shows the state’s flexibility in implementing child labor laws, recognizing the unique requirements of the entertainment industry while ensuring the protection of minors.

2. Minors under 14 can still work some jobs

Continuing from the established legal working age, it’s significant to note that California labor laws do permit minors under 14 to engage in certain types of employment. Despite the legal working age being 14, minors under this age can still work some jobs. These roles typically include independent or odd jobs such as babysitting, newspaper delivery, or any form of self-employment.

Furthermore, minors under 14 can work in the agricultural sector given that they are employed by a parent or guardian. Another notable exception under these laws is for child actors, who can work by acquiring a work permit.

It is essential, however, that these employment opportunities do not interfere with the child’s education, health, and well-being.

3. Minors under 18 cannot work certain jobs

Despite the aforementioned permissions, it’s crucial to understand that numerous prohibitions are in place for minors under 18 when it comes to employment in certain industries.

Hazardous Industries:

  • Minors under 18 are barred from industries such as meatpacking, roofing, sawmills, and bakery machine operations.

Dangerous Occupations:

  • Jobs that involve work in quarries, mines, tobacco manufacturing, or positions as drivers, on boats, or railroads are among the minor’s prohibited jobs.

Age Restrictions:

  • These restrictions are in place due to the potential risk factors associated with these jobs. These age restrictions ensure the safety and welfare of minors, protecting them from hazardous conditions and potential exploitation.

4. To work, minors need to get a California work permit

Transitioning from prohibitions to permissions, it’s essential to highlight that a significant majority of minors seeking employment in California are required to obtain a work permit. Work permit requirements for minors in California entail certain procedures. Minors need to file a Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit, signed by a parent or legal guardian. The request is then sent to the school district office for approval.

Steps Responsibility Outcome
File Request
Statement of Intent
School District
Permit to Employ and Work

Exceptions exist for child actors in the entertainment industry. These minors also require work permits, but these are issued by the Labor Commissioner, not the school district.

5. Minors still need to go to school if they have not graduated high school

In correlation with work permit requirements, it’s crucial to note that California child labor laws mandate school attendance for minors who have not yet graduated from high school. This underscores the importance of education for minors and highlights the potential consequences of truancy.

Importance of education for minors:

  • Enhances future employability and economic independence
  • Provides the necessary foundational knowledge and skills
  • Fosters social interaction and personal development

Consequences of truancy for minors:

  • Legal repercussions for both minors and their parents
  • Increased risk of unemployment and low-wage jobs in adulthood
  • Higher likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors

Such stringent regulations ensure that work does not interfere with minors’ education, thereby securing their prospects and well-being.

6. Child labor laws regulate how many hours can be worked, and when minors can work

The stringent regulations governing California’s child labor laws also encompass specific restrictions on the number of hours minors can work, along with stipulations on when they can work. These regulations are designed to ensure that employment does not adversely impact minors’ education.

For example, during school days, 12 or 13-year-olds cannot work, while 14 and 15-year-olds are limited to certain hours per week. For 16 and 17-year-olds, the restrictions vary.

Enforcement of these laws is strict, with penalties for non-compliance designed to deter employers from violating these provisions. Penalties can include fines, suspension of business licenses, and even criminal charges.

Thus, these regulations play a crucial role in balancing the work and education needs of minors in California.

7. The entertainment industry has its own rules

While these regulations strictly apply to most industries, it should be noted that California’s child labor laws carve out a different set of rules for the entertainment industry. Child labor regulations in the entertainment industry are unique for several reasons:

  • Work Permit: Unlike other industries, the work permits for minors in the entertainment industry are issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement rather than school districts.
  • Age Limit: The laws allow for children as young as 15 days old to work in the industry, under specific conditions.
  • Schooling: Child actors must receive an education, but the format can vary – on-set tutoring is common.

The impact of child labor laws on young actors is significant, ensuring their safety, and education, and providing a unique framework within which they can pursue their careers.

8. Minors have important workplace protections

Transitioning from the unique regulations in the entertainment industry, it’s essential to highlight that California’s child labor laws provide significant workplace protections for all employed minors.

These safeguards ensure that minors’ workplace rights are upheld. For instance, minors are entitled to meal and rest breaks during work hours and are eligible for overtime payment.

Many hazardous occupations are off-limits for minors, safeguarding their health and safety. The enforcement of child labor laws is a priority in California, with stringent penalties in place for employers who violate these regulations.

Furthermore, minors who sustain work-related injuries have the right to claim workers’ compensation, emphasizing California’s commitment to protecting its young workforce.


In conclusion, understanding California’s child labor laws is essential for ensuring minors’ protection and rights in the workforce.

These laws are thorough, encompassing legal working age, job restrictions, work permits, and school attendance.

Moreover, special provisions exist for the entertainment industry.

Therefore, adherence to these regulations is crucial for safeguarding the interests and welfare of minors, whilst also enabling their successful participation in the labor market.

Share this to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If You Encounter Any Issues, Kindly Complete Our Basic Employment Intake Form, and We Will Reach Out to You Promptly.

Before initiating a formal intake process, we would like to gather some preliminary information to assess the viability of your case. Your prompt responses will help us determine if we are well-suited to address your needs. Please note that there is no attorney-client relationship based on the submission of this form.

By submitting you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Please be advised that Jonny Law PC does not represent you until you have signed a retainer agreement.  Until that time, you are responsible for any statutes of limitations or other deadlines for your case or potential case.