North Carolina Child Labor Law

Last update: June 10, 2023

Minimum Hiring Age in North Carolina

What is the minimum age to be employed in North Carolina? The legal age to work in North Carolina is 14, but governed by state and federal child labor laws and varies based on:

  • The type of work (e.g., agricultural or non-agricultural)
  • Whether the job is considered hazardous or has prohibited duties.
  • Whether school is in session.
  • The legal status of the minor (e.g., emancipated minors).
  • Whether the job is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to Federal Law (FLSA), a minor must be at least 14 years old to work for an employer (e.g. retail stores, food service establishments and gasoline service stations), with an exception for minors working for a parent or legal guardian who owns the business. This is the reason why you will never see job postings for children under the age of 14.

Age Restrictions

  • Under 16: No child under 16 years of age shall be employed or permitted to work in, or about, or in connection with any mill, factory, cannery, workshop, manufacturing or mercantile establishment, laundry, bakery, office, hotel, restaurant, barber shop, boot-black stand, public stable, garage, place of amusement, brick yard, lumber yard, or any messenger or delivery service.
  • Newspaper and magazine carrier: Newspaper and magazine carrier boys, operating on fixed routes, are not classified as being employed in street trades. Boys under 16 and over 14 may be employed as carrier boys, under regular employment certificates, between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., but the hours of work and the hours in school shall not exceed eight hours in any one day. These hours are fixed by Sec. 5033, C. S., as amended by Ch. 125, Public Laws of 1931, which further limits the hours of work for carrier boys to four hours per day and 24 hours per week.
  • Neighborhood Magazine Sales: Nothing in the above rulings shall be construed to prohibit a boy under 14 years of age from selling and delivering magazines and periodicals in the vicinity of his home and under the supervision of his parents.
  • Street Trades: are defined as selling merchandise, such as newspapers, magazines, peanuts, etc., or working as itinerant boot-blacks, etc., on the streets. Girls under 16 years of age will not be permitted to engage in any form of street trades. Boys 12 and 13 years of age may engage in various forms of street trades during the time school.
  • Place of Amusement: The employment of any child under the age of 14 years in a place of amusement is illegal.

Minimum age to drive motor vehicles (cars and small trucks) on public roads as part of jobs is basically 17 years old, with certain requirements.

Minimum age to serve and bartend alcohol in North Carolina:

Beer Wine Spirits
Serve 18 18 18
Bartend 18 18 21

Work Hours

  • Under 16: Minors under the age of 16 may maximum work:
    • 8 hours per day.
    • 48 hours per week.
    • No child under 16 years of age (except newspaper carrier boys) may be employed or permitted to work before 6:00 o'clock in the morning or after 7:00 o'clock in the evening.
  • 16: Unrestricted

Maximum daily and weekly hours and days per week for minors ages 14 and 15:
8-40 school day/week: 3-18

Students of 14 and 15 enrolled in approved Work Experience and Career Exploration programs may work during school hours up to 3 hours on a school day and 23 hours in a school week

Nightwork prohibited for minors ages 14 and 15:
7 p.m. (9 p.m. during summer vacation) to 7 a.m.

Maximum daily and weekly hours and days per week for ages 16 and 17:
Not regulated

Nightwork prohibited for ages 16 and 17:
11 p.m. to 5 a.m. before school day while school is in session. Not applicable with written permission from both parent and school.

Work Permit

Youth under the age of 18 who work in North Carolina must have a Youth Employment Certificate. https://www.labor.nc.gov/workplace-rights/youth-employment-rules/apply-youth-employment-certificate Age certificate is not provided.

Minimum Wages

The minimum wages in North Carolina is $7.25. FLSA allow employers to pay a youth minimum wage of not less than $4.25 an hour to employees who are under 20 years of age during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after initial employment.


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