FREE Case Review (866) 588-0600

California Child Labor Laws: A Guide for Parents & Employers

California child labor laws are designed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of minors in the workplace. These laws are enforced by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and are intended to safeguard the rights and well-being of minors in the workforce.
Awards & recognition
C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Brief Overview of Child Labor Laws in California

According to Resourceful Compliance, California implemented the Omnibus Child Labor Reform Act (AB 1900) in January 1985, ushering in significant updates to regulations governing minor employment. This legislation applies to both citizens and non-citizens who are minors and have not completed high school or obtained an equivalency certificate [1].

One notable change was that minors under 12 were barred from employment or even accompanying parents to workplaces considered hazardous to those under age 16. Specific work types considered hazardous are restricted and banned to minors based on age as well.

For industries and positions deemed suitable for minor employees, obtaining a work permit from the employer before commencing work is mandatory. These permits must be renewed annually to ensure compliance.

Weekly hour restrictions and allowances for work during school sessions vary according to the minor’s age. Generally, minors aged 14 to 17 are permitted to work while school is in session, albeit with limited hours. However, those aged 12 and 13 are prohibited from working during school sessions.

Minors in California are entitled to receive compensation in accordance with standard minimum wage and overtime regulations. Additionally, minors who have graduated high school or obtained an equivalent certificate, as well as those working certain late-night shifts, must be compensated at adult rates. Moreover, covered minors are entitled to receive overtime pay at one and a half times their regular rate for all hours worked on a sixth consecutive workday.

Special provisions apply to minors working in the entertainment industry, including those of younger ages. These additional regulations encompass requirements for sexual harassment prevention training and notification.

Does a Minor Need a Permit to Work in California?

According to Department of Labor, to work in California, employees and employers must fill out and submit a permit form issued by the California Department of Education entitled “Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit [2].

These forms, aligned with the state’s work permit regulations, can be acquired from and submitted to authorized individuals designated to issue permits for employment.

Before submitting the notification of intent to employ and work, it is imperative that the form is signed by the parent or legal guardian of the youth whom the employer intends to hire. This process ensures compliance with CA Education Code 49162.

What is the Minimum Wage for a Child in California?

In California, the minimum wage for a child under the age of 18 who is not attending school or falls under any exemptions mirrors that of adult employees. For organizations with fewer than 25 employees, the minimum wage stands at $13 per hour, while those with 26 or more employees must adhere to a minimum wage of $14 per hour.

Certain employers hiring full-time college or high school students have the option to pay a minimum wage of $11.05 per hour, equivalent to 85% of the state minimum wage. Additionally, learners entering occupations without prior experience may receive 85% of the minimum wage for the initial consecutive 160 days of employment. These provisions ensure fair compensation while accommodating students’ educational pursuits.

Can a Minor Work Overtime in California?

According to the Department of Industrial Relations, in California, the standard overtime regulations stipulate that nonexempt employees who are 18 years or older, as well as minor employees aged 16 or 17 who are not obligated by law to attend school or prohibited by law from working, must not be employed for more than eight hours in any given workday or exceed 40 hours in a workweek [3].

If they do work beyond these limits, they are entitled to receive one and a half times their regular rate of pay for the additional hours worked over eight in a day or over 40 in a week.

Additionally, working beyond eight hours in a day or more than six consecutive days in a week mandates compensation for overtime, calculated as follows:

  • One and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked beyond eight up to and including 12 hours in a single workday, as well as for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of the workweek.
  • Double the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked beyond 12 in a single workday and for all hours worked beyond eight on the seventh consecutive day of the workweek. These regulations ensure fair compensation for extended work hours, promoting employee welfare and adherence to labor standards.

Related Articles:

See all related hourly worker wage dispute lawsuits our attorneys covered so far.

Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers

The Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new legal challenges in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.


Free Confidential Case Evaluation

Verified 100% Secure SiteTo contact us for a free review of your potential case, please fill out the form below or call us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing: (866) 588-0600.