Back to School, Back to Work? – National Consumers League

In Washington, DC, where the National Consumers League is headquartered, today is the first day of school for hundreds of thousands of kids. The DC Metro area is certainly not unique; students across the country will be filing back into school buildings across the country this week and next, following Labor Day weekend. Earlier this summer, we warned young people about the dangers of taking on summer work that falls into our Five Worst Jobs for Teens categories (landscaping, traveling sales crews, agriculture, and more). Just because summer’s coming to an end doesn’t mean that the hazards of dangerous work are no longer a threat.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 14- and 15-year-olds may work outside school hours in various non-manufacturing, non-mining, non-hazardous jobs under certain conditions.

Permissible work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds are:

  • 3 hours on a school day;
  • 18 hours in a school week;
  • 8 hours on a non-school day;
  • 40 hours in a non-school week; and
  • between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m.

Child labor laws vary from state from state. Please check with your state department of labor as well. The Department of Labor provides a list of contact information, according to where you live. To learn more about what jobs are too dangerous for underage workers, check out our Five Worst Jobs list. And to learn how to protect yourself on the job, check out our Six Tips for Working Youth. Parents, learn what to watch out for if your teen is working or looking for a job this academic year — or any time.