Legal Age to Work in North Carolina

Minimum Age to Work in NC

North Carolina (NC) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Youth employment certificates (YEC) are required. Cannot 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.
16-17Youth employment certificates (YEC) are required.Cannot 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.

North Carolina Child Labor Laws

The North Carolina Department of Labor ensures safe and ethical work practices and conditions for minors remain upheld in the state. Development of teenagers through underage employment may engender positive values. Employers in the State of North Carolina may hire on minors to perform daily responsibilities so long as the labor continues to promote general youth well-being and does not place children in hazardous situations. Hours and job limitations exist for the benefit of the workers and employers. With few allowances, the federal minimum wage applies to all NC youth workers.

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Minimum Age to Work in North Carolina

Most non-threatening jobs become accessible to individuals 16 and over. Fourteen and fifteen year olds may access work opportunities on a more limited basis. Children under 14 may work in fields not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as babysitting and household chores. Once an individual reaches 18 years of age, NC youth law restrictions cease to apply.

Hour Restrictions

What hours can a minor work in North Carolina depends largely upon the age of the individual and the current school session. Workers 16 and 17 years of age enrolled in school may not labor between hours of 11:00pm and 5:00am on a school night without written permission from a parent or guardian and the principal of the school. More complex restrictions exist for individuals fourteen and fifteen years of age. Minors under 16 may not work during school hours or more than 3 hours on a school day. The children must not work more than 18 hours a school week or 40 hours on a non-school week. Labor must remain between 7:00am and 7:00pm during the school year. The evening deadline extends to 9:00pm between June 1st and Labor Day.

Breaks do not stand as mandatory for individuals 16 years of age and older. Rest period requirements for employees under sixteen include a break of a half hour for every five consecutive hours of labor. Workers on break must enjoy complete relief of duties for the duration of the period. Respite policies largely remain at the discretion of the employer.

Work Certificates

All non-agricultural youth workers must obtain a work permit to begin employment. The document details duties, place of employment, and employer. The certificates bear the signatures of the minor, parent or guardian, employer, and the county designee. Workers must give the completed form to the employer on the first day of labor. The employer must then maintain the permit on file for up to two years after the departure of the minor employee or until the individual turns 20.

Hazardous Jobs

Banned Occupations
Jobs deemed hazardous to the health and well-being of minors in North Carolina bear a partial or complete ban. The Secretary of Labor establishes guidelines and makes final decisions regarding hazardous occupations. Though limited exemptions may apply in some circumstances, the following occupations typically stand prohibited for minors:

  • Manufacturing or Storing Explosives
  • Coal Mining
  • Logging or Work in Sawmills
  • Jobs Involving Exposure to Radioactive Materials
  • Work with Power-Driven Machinery
  • Work in Meat Packing Plants/Slaughterhouses
  • Roofing
  • Trenching/Excavation
  • Driving a Motor Vehicle
  • Preparing/Selling/Serving Alcoholic Beverages

Detrimental Occupations
The North Carolina Commissioner of Labor declares nine occupations as detrimental or otherwise harmful to the health of minors. Persons under 18 resultantly may not hold employment in said positions. Related hiring constraints do not normally apply to government and domestic employers. Individuals participating in apprenticeships or student learner programs also stand exempt from the restrictions on the restricted jobs. Detrimental occupations in the Tar Heel State consist of:

  • Welding/Torch Cutting
  • Exposure to Quartz or Asbestos
  • Work with Lead
  • Benzene Exposure
  • Canneries/Processing Plants
  • Occupations Involving a Risk of Falling 10 Feet or More
  • Electrical Work/Electrician’s Helper
  • Work in Confined Spaces
  • Jobs Requiring the Use of a Respirator

North Carolina Jobs for 14 and 15 Year Olds
Fourteen and fifteen year olds in North Carolina face limits on available work. Occupations considered injurious or dangerous to the health of minors remain inaccessible to young workers. Work must not take place during school hours, and must follow the previously outlined regulations. Positions permitted for 14 and 15 year olds include:

  • Dishwasher
  • Grocery Bagger
  • Cashier
  • Shelf Stocker
  • Non-Cooking Food Preparation
  • Office Work

Driving jobs do stand available to 17 year olds under certain circumstances and exclusively during daylight hours. Permissible vehicles include cars and small trucks only. Though minors may not handle alcoholic beverages in any way, sixteen and seventeen year olds may work on the same premises where the beverages retail, and younger individuals may gain employment working on the outside grounds with parental consent. Children working in acting, modeling, or other performing arts fields still need to possess work permits to hold employment but remain exempt from all other provisions of North Carolina child labor law.

Agriculture Laws

Agricultural jobs in the Old North State operate under different provisions than other occupations. Maximum hours stipulations for teens generally follow the same guidelines as the laws for adults under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Youths 16 and older may work in any job in agriculture at any time and children as young as 12 and under may labor on the farm of a parent or guardian, or otherwise with the appropriate waivers. Minors aged fourteen and fifteen may work outside of school hours and in jobs considered non-hazardous in agricultural employment. Workers under 18 do not need work permits to hold employment in pastoral cultivation fields. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services implements all regulations for farming work.

Hazardous jobs remain unsuitable for minors under sixteen years of age. Operation of heavy equipment such as trenchers, combines, feed grinders, tractors over 20 horsepower, and other power-driven machinery, working from a ladder or scaffolding over 20 feet, and driving an automobile, bus, or truck to transport passengers all comprise dangerous labor positions for teenagers. Use of blasting agents or explosives and handling of or exposure to toxic chemicals also stands prohibited. Work with animals designated for breeding purposes or animals with newborn young may not involve children, due to the unpredictable, hostile, and hormonal nature of the creatures. Restrictions on hours, wages, and duties, hazardous or not, do not apply to minors working on a farm operated or owned by a parent or guardian under North Carolina law.

source: North Carolina child labor laws source: Additional child labor law resources

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