Employing Minors During the Summer

by George Russo, Esq.

California,  Compensation,  Featured,  Hot Topics

Several members have called us recently to ask whether it would be OK to employ minors through the summer in various occupations. The answer to these questions depends largely on state law, and we’ve put together a detailed FYI to assist you. Note that to access the FYI, you will need your log-in credentials. Below are selected highlights from our FYI, along with some additional resources.


Under federal law, 14- and 15-year-old employees cannot work:

  • More than three hours a day on school days;
  • More than 18 hours per week in school weeks;
  • More than eight hours a day on non-school days;
  • More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session;
  • During school hours; and
  • Before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day, when they can work until 9 p.m.

Federal law also features numerous other restrictions on youth labor. For more information, please see our FYI or this detailed website maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).


Colorado law states that no employer shall be permitted to employ a minor:

  • More than 40 hours in a week; and
  • More than eight hours in any 24-hour period.

On school days, during school hours, no minor under the age of 16 shall be permitted employment except by a school release permit. After school hours, no minor under 16 shall be permitted to work in excess of six hours unless the next day is not a school day.

Colorado law also imposes numerous other restrictions on the occupations in which minors may work. For reference, please see the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Fact Sheet on Colorado Youth Law.


Utah law has some provisions that are less stringent than federal law. In those instances, employers must follow federal law, such as with respect to hours worked daily and the hours of the day within which such work may be performed. Utah laws restricts minors under the age of 18 from working in 17 different occupational areas.


Under Arizona law, work hours are restricted for employees under the age of 16. The requirements for minors under the age of 16 follow:

  • No more than three hours on a school day when enrolled in school on a day when school is in session;
  • No more than eight hours on a non-school day;
  • No more than 18 hours total in a week;
  • No work before 6 a.m. or after 9:30 p.m. when there is school the next day;
  • No work after 11 p.m. when there is no school the next day;
  • No more than eight hours daily or 40 hours weekly when school is not in session or the employee is not enrolled in school; and
  • No work before 6 a.m. or after 11 p.m. when school is not in session or the employee is not enrolled in school.

As with any state law, Arizona law must give way when federal law is more stringent. As is the case in Utah, Arizona law is less strict than federal law with respect to restrictions of work “before 6 a.m.” or “after 9:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.” In those instances, employers must follow federal law because it restricts some minor employees from working past “7 p.m. during the school year” and “9 p.m. during summer months.” Federal law is also stricter in that it prohibits some minors from working prior to 7 a.m. at any time of year.

In addition, Arizona restricts employees under the age of 16 from being employed in solicitation sales or door-to-door solicitation after 7 p.m.

For detailed guidance in Arizona, please see our FYI or this website of the Industrial Commission of Arizona.


California’s youth labor restrictions are more extensive than what is found in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, or at the federal level. For detailed guidance, please see the Child Labor Law Pamphlet from the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Notably, unlike the other states, California employers must obtain a youth labor permit when employing a minor, which meets the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “certificate of age.”

With respect to work hours, please see page 8 of the Child Labor Law Pamphlet.


If an employer violates these laws, it can expect penalties. In August of this year, the DOL finished an investigation into a group of ski resorts in New England. The DOL found that the group employed a total of 44 minors, ages 14 and 15, outside of the FLSA hours restrictions. The DOL investigation resulted in the group paying a $21,582 penalty and implementing extensive corrective measures to resolve the violations.

Therefore, always ensure compliance with youth work hour restrictions, as violations can be costly.

About the author
George Russo, Esq.

George Russo is an employment law attorney in the Colorado Spring Office. He is licensed in Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan. George provides legal advice and representation to employers regarding wage and hour issues, discrimination, unemployment, and other employment law matters. Prior to Joining Employers Council he practiced law at MacCabe & McGuire and Anderson, Rasor and Partners in the areas of civil litigation, employment law, and corporate law. George received his law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago and his bachelor’s in Spanish from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.