Legal Age to Work in Iowa

Minimum Age to Work in IA

Iowa (IA) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Requires work permits. May work 4 hours per day on school days, up to 28 hours per week when school is in session.
16-17Employers may require work permits. Prohibits occupations involving operation of laundry, dry cleaning, or dyeing machinery, and dangerous/ hazardous chemicals.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.
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Iowa Child Labor Laws

Because several occupations prove unsuitable for young people to perform, laws enforcing restrictions on the employment of minors remain necessary in the State of Iowa. The Hawkeye State considers any person under the age of 18 a minor. To protect the youth of the state, labor laws outline acceptable work hours and positions as well as the obligatory paperwork needed on file to protect both employee and employer. When dissent occurs between federal and state laws, employers should always adhere to the stricter laws.

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

Though minors become eligible for more lucrative and demanding work at the age of 14, individuals as young as 10 years old may work street trades with the proper permits. Furthermore, certain jobs like modeling and migrant labor allow individuals younger than fourteen to participate in gainful employment, though specific paperwork must remain on file with the employer. When a minor reaches 14 years of age, the individual becomes eligible to work in retail and food service, though some elements of each industry remain restricted, as well as work in agriculture, caddying on golf courses, selling gas and oil, and performing office and clerical work. Sixteen year olds enjoy even less restrictive employment opportunities, while individuals at 18 years of age need not worry about child labor laws.

Hour Restrictions

Youth under the age of sixteen must adhere to hour restrictions designed to protect the health and educational progress of minors. When school stands in session in the State of Iowa, youths may not work more than four hours a day nor work more than 28 hours in a given week. Minors may not work during school hours and remain permitted to work only from 7:00am to 7:00pm. During the summer or other school recesses lasting at least a week, Iowa youths may work up to eight hours a day but clock no more than 40 hours a week. Additionally, if the schedule of a minor calls for a shift totaling five or more hours, the individual must receive a 30-minute break.

Special Hour Restrictions
While basic hour restrictions apply to most situations, specialized circumstances call for varied limitations. Sixteen year olds generally do not remain subject to hour restrictions; however, individuals working in the transmission, distribution, or delivery of goods or messages must follow the regular hour guidelines. Youths between the ages of 10 and 15 working street trades, such as delivering newspapers, magazines, or circulars, may work between 4:00am and 7:00pm during periods when school stands in session. During vacation periods, minors involved in street trades may work as late as 8:30pm. Migrant laborers between the ages of twelve and sixteen may work from 5:00am to 7:30pm during times of the year when school remains in session and between 5:00am and 9:00pm during vacations and holidays. Lastly, minors under the age of 16 employed as models may not work more than three hours a day or 12 hours a month. As long as written parental consent remains on file, youth models may work between the hours of 7:00am and 10:00pm.

Required Paperwork

Work Permits
Any employed minor aged fourteen or fifteen years must acquire a work permit. Available at schools and Iowa Workforce Development Centers, work permits require potential employers to fill out the portions of the form outlining the expected duties of would-be minor employees, projected hours, and any machinery the minor might operate on site. Written parental or guardian consent also proves necessary for the completion of the form. When returning the forms to issuing officers, Iowa youths need to provide proof of age in the form of birth certificates, passports, baptismal records, or, if the minor cannot access any other accepted documents, papers stating the age of the job seeker and bearing the signature of a certified physician.

Certificate of Age
A certificate of age remains a requirement for hire of 16 and 17 year old minors. The process for obtaining a certificate of age shares many similarities with the process for obtaining a work permit, and the same documents serving as acceptable age verification for work permits also prove acceptable for certificates of age. Such documentation exists to protect both the employee and employer from violating Iowa child labor laws.

Restricted Professions

Occupations Prohibited for Minors under 16
Since the prevention of health risks serves as the primary function of child labor laws, a large portion of the law outlines which occupations prove too dangerous for minors. Until minors reach the age of 18, labor law restrictions remain strictly enforced. However, some jobs become accessible to individuals at age 16, though qualifications may apply, while still restricted for minors at 14 and 15 years old. Jobs unavailable to fourteen and fifteen year olds in Iowa include occupations in the following sectors or settings:

  • Manufacturing or Construction
  • Insurance
  • Real Estate
  • Hotels or Motels
  • Restaurants
  • Local Government
  • Lumberyard
  • Garages or Auto Repair
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  • Greenhouses and Nurseries
  • Printing and Publishing Firms

Occupations Prohibited for Minors under 18
Some jobs and industries remain too hazardous for working minors of any age. The following list outlines the prohibited occupations and work activities for Iowa youth under the age of eighteen:

  • Any Exposure to Explosives
  • Logging or Sawmills
  • Using Power-Driven Machinery
  • Exposure to Radioactive Materials
  • Slaughter or Meat Packaging
  • Using Saws
  • Wrecking or Demolition
  • Roofing
  • Excavating
  • Mining
  • Operating Motor Vehicles
  • Working in Foundries
  • Laundry or Dry Cleaning
  • Exposure to Lead Fumes and Other Dangerous Chemicals

source: Iowa child labor laws
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