Child Labor Maps
We reviewed state-level agricultural and non-agricultural child labor laws for discrepancies with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Even though the FLSA is not a 'gold standard' in national child labor laws, it is federal law in the US and we have used this comparison to identify the potential for violations of children's basic rights in the United States, and to monitor where states are rolling their laws back.
States in yellow have proposed or have made recent changes to child labor law.
Numbers in italic brackets are the FLSA age standards: e.g. (14) = 14 years old.
Numbers in italic brackets are the FLSA hours standards: e.g. (18) = 18 hours.
Please see below the map for methodology and definitions.
Methodology and definitions
MINIMUM AGE: The FLSA minimum age for any part-time non-agricultural work is 14 with some exceptions (such as newspaper delivery and acting/performing). For states, we used the minimum age specified at which a child can work part-time with the same exceptions as the FLSA, as well as working as sports officials in youth sports and paging in the state legislature.
MINIMUM HAZARDOUS WORK AGE: The FLSA minimum age for hazardous labor is 18 and the US Department of Labor has 17 hazardous orders. It also bans additional types of work for children younger than 16. For states, we used the minimum at which a child can undertake work specified in the 17 hazardous orders, or the age at which a child can undertake a banned occupation if younger than 16.
SCHOOL IN SESSION: The FLSA specifies that children aged 14-15 years old can only work 3 hours per weekday, 8 hours per weekend day, a total of 18 hours per week, and between 7 AM and 7 PM, when school is in session. We identified any violations of these regulations in state laws.
JUNE 1 TO LABOR DAY: The FLSA specifies that children aged 14-15 years old can work 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week during this period, between 7 AM and 9 PM. We identified any violations of these regulations in state laws.
ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS: The FLSA does NOT legislate for breaks, maximum days worked per week, or work permits, nor does it regulate hours for 16-17 year olds. We identified where states offer any of these additional protections.
Exceptions and discrepancies
CHILD MARRIAGE AND PARENTING: Several states do not classify a child who is married or a parent as a minor. These states include: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington. However, they may still be covered by some of the state's child labor laws (usually on hazardous work).
GOLF CADDIES: Many states have an exception to allow very young children to work as golf caddies, and in most cases there are few legislated protections for these children. These states are: Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nebraska (no minimum age); and Colorado (9 years old), Utah (10 years old), Kentucky (11 years old), Michigan (11 years old), Pennsylvania (12 years old), and Illinois (13 years old).
HARDSHIP: Some states explicitly legislate for parents to be able to request court exemptions from child labor laws if they are in financial hardship. These states include Florida and Texas.
There are some discrepancies between the text of a state's legislation and the guidance provided by the state's Department of Work/Labor. This is usually because the state guides employers to apply either the FLSA or the state law - whichever is stronger. Some states also specify that the state law only applies if the employer is not covered by the FLSA.
These maps were made possible through research conducted by Julie Johnson, Esha Kode, Penelope De Roys, Emerson Femc, Ella Kruczynska, Morgan Keyt, and Shaharazad Abuel-Ealeh.
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Your support will go directly to the work we do to end child labor in the United States.