Legal Age to Work in Pennsylvania

Minimum Age to Work in PA

Pennsylvania (PA) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15A general or vacation employment certificate is required. The employment certificates are issued by school authorities. Maximum 4 hours on school days, 8 hours on any other day, and 18 hours per school week.
16-17A general or vacation employment certificate is required. The employment certificates are issued by school authorities. A transferable work permit may be issued to 16 and 17 year olds. Maximum 28 hours per school week.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Work in Pennsylvania?

Implemented to protect the health and safety of working minors, Pennsylvania child labor laws encompass a series of rules and regulations initiated and enforced statewide by the Department of Labor and Industry. The various sections contained in the state’s official Child Labor Act describe the minimum age to work in Pennsylvania, the process for procuring a work permit, the jobs and hours all minors remain prohibited from working, and exceptions to the law. Unlike the national government, which administers federal labor laws that tend to focus on minors through 15 years of age, the Keystone State monitors and regulates the employment of all workers between the ages of 14 and 17.

In most cases, the legal working age in Pennsylvania starts at 14. Although individual employers often maintain stricter requirements regarding the minimum age to work, state labor laws begin applying to minors at 14 years old. Working minors remain bound by the Child Labor Act until achieving the status of legal adults at age 18. Under the Pennsylvania law, every employee between 14 and 17 years of age must hold a workers permit and adhere to regulations limiting the number of hours minors may work. The Child Labor Act also prohibits underage job seekers from pursuing employment in a variety of traditionally hazardous fields. Upon turning 16, minors may start working longer hours and applying for jobs that remain inaccessible to younger individuals.

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Jobs Available to Pennsylvania Minors

Despite affecting all working minors between 14 and 17 years old, Pennsylvania child labor laws make a general distinction between younger teens and older ones. While any minor of legal working age may gain employment in appropriate roles at places like hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and sporting events, the Child Labor Act restricts access to certain occupations until the underage job seeker turns 16. According to state labor laws, acceptable jobs for 16 year olds include positions like amusement park attendant, cook, and lifeguard. Other suitable jobs for teenagers in Pennsylvania include nonhazardous work performed at bowling alleys, golf courses, retirement homes, ski resorts, and similar types of establishments, as long as the sale and consumption of any alcohol takes place in designated areas not staffed by underage employees.

Exceptions to Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws

Although the Child Labor Act of Pennsylvania mainly applies to minors over the age of 14, the law makes certain exceptions for individuals younger than the unofficial minimum age to work. State labor laws allow minors as young as 11 to work as newspaper carriers, while legally sanctioned jobs for 12 year olds include caddying positions at golf courses. Underage caddies, however, may only carry one golf bag at a time and work for up to 18 holes of golf per day. In addition to caddying and newspaper delivery positions, occupations involving farming or domestic service make suitable jobs for kids in Pennsylvania.

Prohibited Occupations

While minors in the Keystone State enjoy access to jobs approved by lawmakers, workers younger than 18 also remain banned from certain occupations and industries. Pennsylvania child labor laws prohibit any minor from working as a brickmaker, crane operator, demolition worker, driver, electrical worker, elevator operator, excavator, forest firefighter, meat processor, mill worker, paint or poison manufacturer, roofer, welder, or woodworker. The state also prevents all underage employees from working on boats, machinery, railroads, and rivets. Minors lack the legal authorization to work in metal industries, mines and quarries, the printing and paper industry, tanneries, and the vicinity of radioactive substances, as well.

Restrictions on Work Hours

In addition to identifying acceptable and prohibited jobs for minors, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act outlines the number of hours and time of day that underage employees may work. Fourteen and fifteen year olds may work up to three hours on school days and eight hours on non-school days, as long as the work takes place between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM. During school vacations, jobs for 14 year olds and jobs for 15 year olds may last until 9:00 PM and amount to a maximum total of 40 hours per week. For minors between the ages of 16 and 17, permitted work times range from 6:00 AM to midnight every day of the year. Sixteen and seventeen year olds may work as many as 8 hours a day and 28 hours per week during the academic term, while school vacations extend the maximum hours of employment to 10 per day and 48 a week. Regardless of age, no minor may work more than six consecutive days.

How to Get a Work Permit

Prior to starting a job for the first time, Pennsylvania minors must obtain a work permit. Issued by local school districts throughout the state, the work permit verifies fulfillment of the legal working age and remains valid until the underage employee turns 18. The local school district keeps work permit applications, which require the signature of a parent or guardian. After completing the application, the working minor must submit the document as well as proof of age, like a birth certificate or driver’s license, to the issuing officer at the school. The issuing officer grants the work permit only after receiving, examining, approving, and filing the necessary paperwork. Minors under the age of 16 must submit additional parental consent in writing, along with the application form.

source: Pennsylvania child labor laws

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