Legal Age to Work in Kentucky

Minimum Age to Work in KY

Kentucky (KY) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Cannot work more than 18 hours per week or more than 3 hours per day when school is in session. Cannot work before 7:00am or after 7:00pm.
16-17Cannot work in any vocation which has been declared by Rule or Regulation of the Secretary of Labor to be dangerous or injurious to the life, health, morals or welfare of a minor.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

Kentucky Child Labor Laws

State law relating to the gainful employment of minors falls under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Department of Labor. With a few provisional exceptions, what age can children work at in Kentucky includes individuals fourteen and older. For all working teenagers in the state, proof of age, such as a birth certificate or driver’s license, serves as a prerequisite for obtaining jobs for minors. Employers must retain the capability to furnish documentation for the ages of all minors on staff to authorized persons or face legal penalties.

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Work Hours

Hours restrictions exist to ensure young employees continue to make progress in school and do not become overworked. In addition to the following provisions, after every five consecutive hours of work, all minors must take a break of at least 30 minutes. Employers must document the start and end times of each recess.

When Can 14 and 15 Year Olds Work in Kentucky?
Generally, fourteen and fifteen year olds may only work between 7:00am and 7:00pm. From June 1st through Labor Day, the nighttime deadline extends to 9:00pm. During school weeks, 18 hours constitutes the maximum total of hours worked allowable by law, with no more than three hours or work permitted on each school day and eight on non-academic days. When school dismisses for extended breaks or holidays, 14 and 15 year old minors may work up to 40 hours a week.

Hours for 16 and 17 Year Olds
For minors 16 and over, work may not commence before 6:00am on any given day. On a school night, 10:30pm stands as the latest a sixteen or seventeen year old may work. The daily time limit sits at six hours on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day during an academic week. While the maximum number of hours for work in a school week normally stands at 30, teenagers wishing to work up to 40 hours in a school week may earn the privilege with signed parental consent and a verified grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Though work shifts preceding non-academic days for underage laborers must always finish by 1:00am, adolescent workers over 15 face no other hours restrictions during non-school weeks.

Prohibited Occupations

Many disciplines of paying work in the Bluegrass State remain inaccessible to individuals under 18 years of age. Authorities deem certain professions unsuitable for minors for many reasons, including the risk of danger or injuries to the bodily health and well-being of teen workers. The following list outlines the banned occupations for all juveniles:

  • Work with Explosives
  • Driver/Motor Vehicle Helper
  • Logging/Sawmilling
  • Work with Power-Driven Machinery
  • Manufacturing Bricks/Tile
  • Exposure to Radioactive Substances
  • Wrecking/Demolitions
  • Work in Pool/Billiard Rooms
  • Mining
  • Roofing
  • Excavation

Restricted Jobs for 14 and 15 Year Olds in Kentucky
Minors under 16 may not hold any job on the prohibited occupations list. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet specifies operations in mining, manufacturing, and processing as particularly hazardous to children. Power-driven machinery, transportation, and construction trades represent other jobs designated as forbidden to teenagers at fourteen and fifteen years of age.


Though juveniles normally may not hold any employment in establishments which make, sell, or serve alcohol, one contextual exemption exists. Businesses retailing alcohol as an incidental good not primary to the main function of the company may employ youth workers in jobs otherwise defined as illegal for minors. Individuals under 14 may also hold employment through school programs specifically designed for youth employment training. Labor must remain directly supervised and sponsored by school district personnel.

Golf Caddies
Special regulations allow children ages 11 and older to gain employment as golf caddies. The job stands defined as an individual who carries golf clubs, assists in maintaining the course, and offers help and insightful advice to golfers, when relevant. Minors under 13 may not carry golf bags without wheels, and individuals between thirteen and fifteen years of age shall not lift a club bag over 35 lbs. In addition, no juveniles under 16 may operate a golf cart.

source: Kentucky child labor laws

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