Pennsylvania Child Labor Law

Last update: June 10, 2023

Minimum Hiring Age in Pennsylvania

What is the minimum age to be employed in Pennsylvania? The legal age to work in Pennsylvania 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

  • Prohibited Occupations for all Minors in Entertainment:
    • Any acrobatic act that is hazardous to the minor’s safety or well-being.
    • Use of/or exposure to dangerous weapons or pyrotechnical devises.
    • Activities that have a high level of inherent danger including activities involving speed, height, a high level of physical exertion and highly specialized gear or spectacular stunts.
    • An act that constitutes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of minors.
    • Boxing, sparring or wrestling, except for a bona fide athletic or recognized amateur competition or activity or non-contact portrayal.
    • Assisting performers in animal act, conducting an animal into a ring or on stage, or riding an animal when the animal exceeds half the weight of the child performer.
  • Prohibited Occupations for all Minors:
    • Brickmaker
    • Crane-, elevator operator
    • Electrical worker
    • Excavator
    • Explosives manufacturing
    • Forest firefighting, Forest service, Mill worker
    • Meat processing
    • Motion picture projectionist
    • Motor vehicles (Exception for occasional driving for licensed 17 year olds with state approved driver education course, if vehicle does not exceed 6,000 pounds and has restraining device, driving is during daylight, within 30 mile radius of employer, and limited to 2 trips per day away from employer location.)
    • Paint, Acids and Poiso manufacturer
    • Roofer
    • Woodworking (Using power-driven woodworking machines, including supervising/controlling operation of machines, feeding/assisting with feeding materials into machines; setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning power-driven woodworking machines, off-bearing from circular saws and guillotine-action veneer clippers.* Exception, 16-17 year olds may place material on moving chain/hopper for automatic feeding.)
    • Spray coater
    • Welder
    • Wrecking and/or demolition worker
  • All minors are also prohibited from working:
    • In establishments where alcoholic beverages are produced, sold or dispensed (Except in part of establishment where alcohol is not served, or hotels, clubs, or restaurants where alcohol is served and the establishment has a Sunday sales license issued by the Liquor Control Board, and minor is serving food, clearing tables and/or related duties, but minor may not serve or dispense alcohol. Performing arts students engaged in uncompensated exhibitions may perform at a licensed establishment, under proper supervision in accordance with the Liquor Code.)
    • On boats (Pilot, fireman or engineer on any boat or vessel.)
    • On machinery (Including repairing, cleaning or oiling machinery in motion and operating or assisting in the operation of the following: emery wheels, metal plate bending, forming, punching, hammering, bending, rolling and shearing machines, punch presses, wire-stitching, stapling machines, circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.
    • On baking machinery (Operating, assisting, setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning dough/batter mixer, bread dividing, rounding or molding machine, dough brake, dough sheeter, bread slicer/wrapper machine or cake cutting band saw, and setting up/adjusting cookie or cracker machine. Except for 16 and 17 year olds setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling and cleaning lightweight, small capacity, portable counter-top power-driven food mixers comparable to models intended for household use. Except for 16 and 17 year olds operating pizza-dough rollers constructed with safeguards to prevent fingers, hands, clothing from being caught on the in–running point of rollers, which have completely enclosed gears, and have microswitches that disengage machinery if the backs/sides of rollers removed. Exception does not apply to setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning of pizza-dough rollers.)
    • In metal industries
    • In mines (Dangerous occupations in or around any mine, including all work performed in any underground working, open-pit, or surface part of any coal-mining plant, that contribute to the extraction, grading, cleaning or other handling of coal. Exceptions for 16-17 year olds: slate/refuse picking at picking table/chute in a tipple or breaker at a coal mine, work in office or repair/maintenance shops on the surface. For other mines all occupations prohibited, except may work in above-ground office, warehouse, supply house, change house, laboratory, repair/maintenance shops, in living quarters, outside mine in surveying, repair/maintenance of roads, general clean-up, track crew work for sections of railroad track when mining activities not being performed, work in or about surface placer mining operations other than place dredging operations and hydraulic placer mining operations. At metal mills other than in mercury-recovery mills or mills using cyanide process may operate jigs, sludge tables flotation cells, drier-filters, may perform hand-sorting at picking table/belt, general clean up. Exception, 14 and 15 year old minors may work in office and perform clerical duties.
    • In quarries (Most occupations, including drilling, shot firing or assisting in loading or tamping holes, face cleaning, attaching blocks to chains for cable hoisting, assisting/operating steam, air or electric shovels.)
    • In the printing and paper industry
    • Around radioactive substances
    • On railroads and railways
    • On rivets (Heating and passing rivets, except for 16 and 17 year old minors 10 feet or less from ground or on a scaffold equipped with guardrails and board)
    • In tanneries
  • Additional Prohibited Occupations for Minors Under 16:
    • Amusement park ride attendant, operator, or dispatcher.
    • Baker and Cook
    • Boiler or engine room worker
    • Chicken catcher (Catching and cooping of poultry in preparation for transport or for market)
    • Construction worker
    • Hoisting apparatus
    • Industrial homework
    • Lifeguard
    • Public messenger
    • Stzrike or lockouts (Prohibited to work in an establishment where a strike or lockout is in progress, unless the minor was legally certified to work in an establishment prior to the declaration of a strike or lockout.)
    • Switchboard operator
    • Tobacco stripper or sorter
    • Transporting (Transportation of persons/property by rail, highway, air, water, pipeline, or other means.)
    • Window cleaner
    • Youth peddling (Selling goods and services and promotional activities, except at the employer’s place of business.)
  • Minors Under 16 are also Prohibited from Working:
    • In establishments where alcoholic beverages are produced, sold or dispensed (Except for continuing-care retirement homes, ski resorts, bowling alleys, golf courses, amusement parks and other similar recreational establishments where alcoholic beverages are served as long as the minor is not handling or serving alcohol, and not working in an area where alcohol is served or stored. Performing Arts students engaged in uncompensated exhibitions may perform at a licensed establishment, under proper supervision in accordance with the Liquor Code.)
    • On coal dredges
    • In freezer or meat coolers
    • On highways
    • In manufacturing (Any manufacturing or mechanical process)
    • On machinery
    • In pattern making shops
    • In the printing industry
    • For public utilities (In any capacity, except office work such as filing, typing and the cleaning and dusting of an office.)
    • On scaffolding
    • On trucks, railcars, and conveyors
    • In tunnels
    • In warehousing and storage.

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 Pennsylvania:

Beer Wine Spirits
Serve 18 18 18
Bartend 18 18 18

Work Hours

  • 3 hours on a school day.
  • 18 hours in a school week. (26 hours if work is performed on Saturday and Sunday)
  • 8 hours on a non-school day.
  • 40 hours in a non-school week.
  • Minors under 16 must have a written statement by the minor’s parent or guardian acknowledging the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work.

Maximum daily and weekly hours and days per week for minors ages 14 and 15:
8-44-6 school day/week: 4 (8 on non-school day) - 18
(Combined hours of work and school)

Nightwork prohibited for minors ages 14 and 15:
7 p.m. (10 p.m. during vacation from June to Labor Day) to 7 a.m.

Maximum daily and weekly hours and days per week for ages 16 and 17:
8-44-6 28 in school week, if enrolled in regular day school

Nightwork prohibited for ages 16 and 17:
12 p.m. (1 a.m. before non-school day) to 6 a.m., if enrolled in regular day school.

Work Permit

Minors under 18 are required to have work permit. Age certificate is not provided.

Minimum Wages

The minimum wages in Pennsylvania 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.