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Pennsylvania Child Labor Law

General Information

The Pennsylvania Child Labor Law (CLL) was enacted to "provide for the health, safety, and welfare of minors by forbidding their employment or work in certain establishments and occupations, and under certain specified ages." The CLL requires minors to obtain work permits prior to beginning work. This law, with the exception of farm work or domestic service in a private home, covers work in any establishment other than the minor's residence. Resource Links:

Frequently Asked Questions

On October 24, 2012 Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 151 making changes to Pennsylvania's existing child labor act. The Act which took effect on January 22, 2013 confers new powers and duties on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The roles and responsibilities of these state agencies, issuing officers, enforcement officers, employers, parents/guardians, and minors will change significantly as the result of this new law.

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) are provided as a guide and brief summary of the major provisions of this new law. It is specifically directed toward school personnel, parents/guardians, minors, and others directly involved in serving those individuals covered under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act. Since the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has direct responsibility for enforcement regarding employers, they are encouraged to contact representatives of that department for additional guidance.

Q: Who is considered to be a minor?
A: A minor, as defined in the Pennsylvania child labor act, is an individual under 18 years of age.

Q: I am a minor and reside in Pennsylvania, where do I get a work permit?
A: Each school district is responsible for issuing work permits to all minors who reside in the district including those who attend non-public schools, cyber charter schools, or are participating in a home education program. Contact your school district to find out which building you should go to and what hours the issuing officer is available.

Q: I am a minor and reside outside of Pennsylvania, where do I get a work permit?
A: Each school district is responsible for issuing work permits to all minors who reside outside of Pennsylvania, but will be working for an employer located within the state. The school district wherein the place of employment is located is responsible for issuing the work permit. Contact the prospective employer as to the name, address, and contact information for the issuing officer in their respective school district.

Q: I am a minor and reside in Pennsylvania; however, I will be working in another state. Where do I get a work permit?
A: The student will need a work permit from the state in which he or she will be working. The student should contact the school district in which the employer is located in that state.

Q: I am a minor and reside in Pennsylvania; however, I will be working in another part of Pennsylvania. Where do I get a work permit?
A: The school district in which the student resides issues the work permit for ALL employment to be performed in Pennsylvania.

Q: I am a minor and reside in Pennsylvania; however, I am a high school graduate. Do I need a work permit?
A: Yes, under the new Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, a minor, who is a high school graduate, must obtain a work permit from the school district where the employer is located or at the college or trade school they are attending. This requirement covers all such minors including those attending colleges, universities, trade schools, or any other individual seeking employment who does not have a current work permit issued in Pennsylvania. High school graduates who possess a work permit are exempt from the work hour limitation for minors 16 years of age and older. They also do not need to have a signature from their parent or legal guardian on the application for a work permit as long as they provide official proof of such graduation.

Q: What are the various types of work permits?
A: Under the current Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, only one type of work permit is issued. This is a wallet-size, transferable work permit, which is valid from the time of issuance until the minor turns 18 years of age. The minor provides a copy to the employer and retains the original.

Q: Who can issue a work permit?
A: The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act indicates that only an issuing officer may issue a work permit. An issuing officer, in most cases, is a staff person located in the guidance office of a public school district's high school. Call your local school district to determine the exact location of the individual who issues work permits. Minors who have official proof of graduation from high school can obtain a work permit from the local school district where the employer is located.

Q: What are the steps in completing an application for a work permit?
A: First, an applicant's parent or legal guardian must sign the application. In lieu of a signature, the applicant may execute a statement before a notary public attesting to the accuracy of the facts set forth in the application. The statement must be on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The statement is then attached to the application. No parental signature is required if the applicant can demonstrate official proof of graduation from high school. Next the issuing officer insures that all papers required by law have been examined, approved and filed and all conditions and requirements for issuing a permit have been fulfilled. The work permit shall be signed in the presence of the issuing officer by the minor. The work permit shall bear a number, the date of issuance and the signature of the issuing officer.

Q: Does a parent or legal guardian have to appear in person before an issuing officer?
A: No, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act indicates that the parent or legal guardian does not have to appear in person before the issuing officer.

Q: Does a minor need to have a job offer in order to obtain a work permit?
A: No, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act does not have any language that would indicate that a minor needs to have a job offer in order to obtain a work permit. Of course, a minor can apply for and accept a job offer prior to obtaining a work permit. Once the work permit is issued, the minor may begin work. In all cases, when a minor is hired by an employer, it is the employer's responsibility to notify the issuing officer within five (5) days of such employment.

Q: What is the procedure for getting a work permit?
A: An application for a work permit can be obtained at your local school district. The parent or legal guardian must sign the application. If the parent or legal guardian is not able to sign the application, then the minor applicant may execute a statement before a notary public attesting to the accuracy of the facts on the application. The statement must be attached to the application. The issuing officer must also be presented with a document that verifies the age of the student. The issuing officer shall not issue a work permit until the issuing officer has received, examined, approved and filed the following papers which verify the applicant's age:

If proof of age is an official document or record of the commonwealth or government of another state or governmental subdivision of another state, it need not be filed if the issuing officer records the information necessary to enable the document or record to be located at the place where it is filed. If proof of age is other than an official document or record of the commonwealth or government of another state or governmental subdivision of another state, the following is the order of preference for acceptable proof under this clause:

  1. An attested transcript of the birth certificate, filed according to law with a register of vital statistics or other officer charged with the duty of recording births.
  2. A certified baptismal certificate or transcript of the record of baptism showing the date of birth.
  3. A passport showing the age of the minor.
  4. Any certified documentary record of age other than a school record or an affidavit of age, which appears to the satisfaction of the issuing officer to be sufficient evidence of age.
  5. The signed statement of a physician, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner, approved by the board of school directors, stating that, after examination, it is the opinion of the individual signing the statement that the applicant has attained the age required by law for the occupation in which the applicant expects to engage. The statement must be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the applicant's parent or legal guardian or, if there is no parent or legal guardian, by the applicant's next friend and certifying to the name, date and place of birth of the applicant and that the individual signing the statement is unable to produce any of the proofs of age specified in subclauses (I), (II), (III) and (IV).

Q: Must the minor appear in person before the issuing officer to receive a work permit?
A: The work permit certifies that the minor has personally appeared before the issuing officer and has been examined and that all papers have been examined, approved and filed. This certifies that all conditions and requirements for issuing a permit have been fulfilled. The work permit is then signed by the minor in the presence of the issuing officer. Minors who can demonstrate official proof of high school graduation do not have to appear before the issuing officer.

Q: Since an issuing officer is also considered to be an enforcement officer under the Child Labor Act, what are their responsibilities?
A: If an Enforcement Officer has reason to believe that an individual working without a permit is a minor or that a minor with a work permit is working in violation of the age restrictions set forth under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, the Officer may demand that the person employing the individual within ten day: (1) Furnish to the Officer proof of age; or (2) Cease to employ or permit the individual to work. In all cases, the issuing officer should information a representative of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry of the suspected violation.

Q: Can a school district refuse to issue a work permit, or revoke one, on the grounds of the student's academic performance?
A: Yes. Under the current Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, if in the issuing officer's judgment, the applicant cannot maintain adequate academic achievement if permitted to work during the school year, the application can be denied. Similarly, an issuing officer may revoke a work permit if it is the issuing officer's judgment that the applicant cannot maintain adequate academic achievement if permitted to work during the school year.

Q: Can a parent, legal guardian, or employer revoke a work permit?
A: No, under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act only an issuing officer may refuse to issue or revoke a work permit.

Q: Must a parent or legal guardian of a 16 year old minor provide any documentation to an employer?
A: Yes, For individuals who are under 16 years of age, a written statement by the minor's parent or legal guardian acknowledging understanding of the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work subject to the provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities). The form titled Parental Acknowledgement of Minor's Duties and Hours of Employment can be found on the Department of Labor and Industry's website at: LLC-75, Parental Acknowledgement of Minor's Duties and Hours of Employment.

Q: Are their special rules for minors working as sport-attendants at professional sporting events?
A: Yes, the new child labor act exempts minors from certain provisions of the law related to work hours. A minor is employed to perform sports-attendant duties if the minor per­forms any of the following duties at a baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis or similar athletic event:

  1. Pregame and postgame or practice setup of balls, items and equipment.
  2. Supplying and retrieving balls, items and equipment during a sporting event.
  3. Clearing the field or court of debris and moisture during play.
  4. Providing ice, drinks and towels to players during play.
  5. Running errands for trainers, managers, coaches and players before, during and after a sporting event.
  6. Returning or storing balls, items and equipment in clubhouse or locker rooms after a sporting event.

For specific information on how this applies to minors 14 through 17 years of age, please review Section 6 of the Child Labor Act on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's website.

Q: Are there special rules for minors serving in volunteer emergency service organizations?
A: Yes, the new child labor act provides specific rules on the involvement of minors age 14 to 17 in volunteer emergency service organizations. For specific information on how this applies to minors 14 through 17 years of age, please review Section 7 of the Child Labor Act on the Department of Labor and Industry's website.

Q: What are the duties of an employer once a minor has a work permit?
A: To be employed, a minor must have a work permit. For individuals who are under 16 years of age, an employer must receive a written statement by the minor's parent or legal guardian acknowledging understanding of the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work subject to the provisions of 18 PA.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities). The employer must keep a copy of the work permit, the original verified permission statement, and a copy of the letter sent to the issuing officer announcing the employment of the minor. The employer must notify the issuing officer in writing of the employment of a minor and detail the normal duties and hours of employment within five days after the beginning of employ­ment and include the age and permit number of the minor. On termination of employment of a minor, the employer must notify the issuing officer within five days of the final day of employment that the minor no longer is employed by the employer.

Q: Who is responsible for having a parent complete the Parental Acknowledgement of Minor's Duties and Hours of Employment?
A: For individuals who are under 16 years of age, a written statement by the minor's parent or legal guardian acknowledging understanding of the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work is required. It is the responsibility of the minor's employer to insure that this document is signed by the parent or legal guardian of the minor. The employer keeps the original and provides the parent or guardian with a copy. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides such an acknowledgement. It can be found on their website at: LLC-75, Parental Acknowledgement of Minor's Duties and Hours of Employment.

Q: Can minors under the age of 14 be employed? If so, do they need a work permit?
A: Yes, minors under the age of 14 can be employed in certain situations; however, they do not need to obtain a work permit. Minors under the age of 14 can be employed as follows: (1) an individual who is at least 12 years of age may be employed as a caddy if the minor does not carry more than one golf bag at a time and employment is not for more than 18 holes of golf in a single day and (2) an individual who is at least 11 years of age may deliver newspapers.

Q: What are the factors involved in determining how many hours a minor can work?
A: There are various factors that must be taken into account when determining how many hours a minor can work on any particular day. "Hours of employment" are defined as the hours outside school hours established by the appropriate school district. "Regular school week" is defined as the five days beginning with Monday through Friday when school is in session. "School vacation" is defined as the period of time a minor is not required to be in school as established by the school district where the minor resides. The term does not include Saturdays and Sundays, except where one or more vacation days precede or follow Saturday or Sunday. A minor enrolled in summer school is subject to the limitation for their age during a regular school week, not school vacation. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides an "Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions" on their website.

Q: What are the hours of employment for minors 14 and 15 years of age?
A: During a regular school week, minors 14 and 15 years of age may not be employed before 7 am or after 7 pm; except that during a school vacation period a minor can be employed until 9 pm. In addition, a minor may not be employed for more than three hours on a school day or more than eight hours on a day when there is no school. The minor may not be employed for more than 18 hours during a regular school week and not more than 40 hours during a week that school is not in session. A regular school week is the five days beginning with Monday through Friday when school is in session. School vacation is the period of time a minor is not required to be in school as established by the school district where the minor resides. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides an "Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions" on their website.

Q: What are the hours of employment for minors if they attend summer school?
A: A minor 14 or 15 years of age enrolled in summer school may not be employed for more than 18 hours during a regular school week. A minor 16 or 17 years of age enrolled in summer school may not work more than 28 hours during a regular school week. A regular school week is the five days beginning with Monday through Friday when school is in session. School vacation is the period of time a minor is not required to be in school as established by the school district where the minor resides. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides an "Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions" on their website.

Q: What are the hours of employment for minors 16 years of age or older during a regular school week?
A: Minors 16 years of age or older may not be employed before 6 am or after 12 midnight during a regular school week. The minor may not be employed for more than 8 hours in a single day or more than 28 hours per week during a regular school week. A regular school week is the five days beginning with Monday through Friday when school is in session. School vacation is the period of time a minor is not required to be in school as established by the school district where the minor resides. A high school graduate or an individual who has attained the age of sixteen (16) and who has withdrawn from school to work full-time do not have to comply with the restrictions on hours of employment. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides an "Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions" on their website.

Q: What are the hours of employment for minors 16 years of age or older during school vacation?
A: During a school vacation period, minors 16 years of age or older may be permitted to be employed for no more than 10 hours a day and can work until 1 am. The minor may not work more than 48 hours in a single week provided that any hours worked more than 44 in a single week are voluntarily agreed to by the minor. The minor may reject any request for employment in excess of 44 hours in a single week without retaliation by the employer. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry provides an "Abstract of the Child Labor Act Hours Provisions" on their website.

Q: Are there special rules for minors 16 years of age or older employed as a counselor, counselor-in-training or junior counselor during the school vacation?
A: Yes, An individual who is 16 years of age or older who is employed as a counselor, counselor-in-training or junior counselor during the school vacation period by a summer resident camp or a conference or retreat operated by a religious or scout organization shall receive 24 consecutive hours of rest during every seven-day period. This does not apply to such minors employed primarily for general maintenance work or food service activities in such settings.

Q: How long do school districts have to keep the work permit applications on file?
A: Applications should be kept for two years after the student graduates or leaves the district.

Q: Once a work permit is issued, how are school districts supposed to know if a student changes jobs?
A: Each employer is required by law to notify the school district, in writing, each time a student is hired and when the student is no longer employed. This must be done within five days of the student starting or ending employment.

Q: How many hours of employment does a 16 year old need in order to drop out of school?
A: Section 1330 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code states that a 16 year old student "who is regularly engaged in any useful and lawful employment or service during the time the public schools are in session, and who holds an employment certificate issued according to the law" is exempt from compulsory attendance. There is no specific number of hours given in Section 1330. Therefore, each school district should have a policy that specifies how many hours of employment are necessary in order for a student to withdraw at age sixteen (16).

Q: Can a student drop out at age 16 to work as a babysitter?
A: Section 1330 of the Pennsylvania School Code allows for a 16 year old to drop out if the employment they are seeking requires a work permit. There must be a formal employer-employee relationship. That means that all of the state and federal notifications by employers must be made as well as withholding and reporting of taxes. Most arrangements for babysitting cannot meet this standard. Self-employment would also not fit under the terms established in Section 1330.

Q: If a student drops out of school at age 17, do they still need a work permit?
A: Yes. The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act requires all minors 14 through 17 to have a work permit in order to be employed. A 17 year old who has dropped out of school should request a letter indicating this status from their home school district. This letter, along with a valid work permit, will indicate to the employer that they are exempt from restrictions concerning work hours. Minors who have graduated high school or who are exempt from compulsory attendance under the Pennsylvania Public School Code are not subject to the Act's hours of employment or work time restrictions.

Q: If a student is 18 and still attending high school, does he or she need a work permit?
A: No. Even though a minor is still in high school, once they turn 18, the Child Labor Act no longer covers them.

Q: Is there information on the Internet about the federal child labor law standards?
A: Yes. There is an overview at: Federal Child Labor Law Overview. The complete set of regulations (PDF)

Q: If a family wants to employ their child in their business, are they exempt from the Child Labor Act?
A: No. There is such an exemption under federal law for family business that does not involve manufacturing, but there is no similar exemption under state law.

Q: If a minor wants to work as a performer, do they need a work permit?
A: Yes, The term "perform" or "performance" is defined under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act as "The providing of artistic or creative services to a live audience or recorded for exhibition or broadcast to an audience. This term shall include modeling". The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry issues special performance permits for all minors under the age of 18, including infants. You can access LLC-12, Application for minors in performances and additional information on their website.

If the performance or rehearsals will require any absence from school, there must be verification signed by the principal of the school attended by the minor or the issuing officer of the minor's school district that the performance and rehearsals will not interfere with the educational instruction or school progress of the minor or a guarantee that arrangements are made for a qualified tutor for the minor.

Q: If a student is being home schooled, do all of the child labor laws apply?
A: The U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that home schooling is not grounds for an exception to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and thus all work by 14- and 15-year-olds is prohibited during the time the local public school is in session. Since the FLSA does not cover 16-and 17-year-olds, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has ruled that home schooled students who are 16 and 17 may work during the time school is in session as long as they do not work more than 6 consecutive days in one week, or work more than 8 hours per day or more than 44 hours per week. Those students may not work after midnight (Sunday through Thursday) during the school year. It would be helpful if the parent provides the employer with written verification that the student is being schooled at home.

Q: Can a student who is suspended or expelled work during the time school is in session?
A: Students who are suspended are considered to be enrolled in the school, and so all the rules that apply to other students also apply to them.

Students who have been expelled are not considered to be "enrolled in a regular day school" (language from the Child Labor Act) so they may be permitted to work during the time school is in session. They may not, however, exceed the daily and weekly maximum number of hours allowed for their age.

Q: Can a student who has been assigned to an alternative school (and is attending classes after the regular school hours) work during the time the regular school is in session?
A: Yes. Students attending an alternative school are not considered to be "enrolled in a regular day school." They may not work more than the daily and weekly maximum number of hours allowed for their age. It would be helpful if the school district provides the employer with written verification that the student is enrolled in an alternative school.

Q: Does a student need a work permit to work on a farm?
A: No. The Child Labor Act states: "this act shall not apply to children employed on the farm, or in domestic service in private homes." With the exception of seasonal farm work, the Child Labor Act does not cover farm work and agricultural work in nurseries (non-retail employment). Students working as seasonal farm workers are covered by the child labor act and must obtain work permits.

Students who wish to be exempt from attending school to work on a farm or to work as a domestic in a home other than their own should contact their school district and request a Farm and Domestic Permit.

Q: What is the definition of a seasonal farm worker?
A: Section 103 of the Pennsylvania Seasonal Farm Labor Act of 1978 (43 P.S. § 1301.103) defines a seasonal farm worker to be an individual employed in raising, cultivating, fertilizing, seeding, planting, pruning, harvesting, gathering, washing, sorting, weighing or handling, drying, packing, packaging, grading, storing or delivering to market or to storage or to a carrier for transportation to market in its unmanufactured state, any agricultural commodity as defined in the act of September 20, 1961 (P.L. 1541, No.657), known as the "Pennsylvania Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act of 1968," or any farm product as defined in 1 Pa.C.S. §1991 (relating to definitions) on a seasonal or other temporary basis; includes every individual, irrespective of his or her primary employment, while he or she performs agricultural labor on a seasonal or other temporary basis, except any person who commutes daily from his or her permanent residence to the work site unless transportation is provided such a person by a farm labor contractor; and, other provisions of this act to the contrary notwithstanding, includes any person residing in living quarters owned, leased or operated by an employer or a farm labor contractor and occupied by four or more unrelated persons.

Q: Is there any information on the Internet about restrictions on what kind of farm work students can do?
A: Yes. Federal Agricultural Fact Sheet

Students who are under the age of 16 who work on a farm that is not their family farm are allowed to operate the farm machinery listed on the hazardous occupations list if they have successfully completed a course in the safe operation of farm equipment. Information about this program and the required certification can be found in the Basic Education Circular.

Q: If an employer is violating the Child Labor Act, whom do I contact?
A: The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry should be given information concerning violations of the law. You can call 1-800-932-0665 or visit The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Q: Are employers required to provide a rest break to minors?
A: Yes. The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act states "No minor may be employed for more than five hours continuously without an interval of at least 30 minutes for a rest break. No period of less than 30 minutes shall be deemed to interrupt a continuous period of work".

Q: Can a minor be required to work more than six consecutive days?
A: No. The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act states "Except for newspaper delivery, a minor may not be employed for more than six consecutive days".

Q: Are there certain occupations or jobs that a minor cannot perform?
A: Yes. Under the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, Section 4, titled "Occupations and establishments", minors may not be employed in hazardous or otherwise prohibited establishments or occupations. For more information review Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act.


For additional information, please contact:

Dan Iser | School Services Advisor
Pennsylvania Department of Education - School Services Office
333 Market Street, 5th Fl | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.8088 | Fax: 717.214.4389
diser@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us