Labor Laws Regarding Minors in North Carolina

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Young cashier (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

North Carolina's youth employment provisions apply to all non-agricultural businesses in the state, regardless of the size of the company or number of employees. Generally, employers cannot hire anyone under the age of 14. The state restricts the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds more than teenagers 16 and over, but all minors must complete a youth employment certificate before starting work.

Permitted Occupations

Teenagers under 18 may only work in certain occupations in North Carolina. They generally are prohibited from working in particularly hazardous industries such as mining or logging, as well as in mills and factories. The state further restricts the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds. Teenagers under 16 cannot work in warehouses or any manufacturing or processing facilities, and cannot legally operate any power-driven machinery, including lawnmowers.

Hours of Work

North Carolina teenagers younger than 16 can't work more than three hours a day on school days, or eight hours a day when school isn't in session. They can work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., but not during school hours unless they're in a career exploration program through their school. During the summer, they can work until 9 p.m. However, they cannot work more than 18 hours a week when school is in session, or more than 40 hours a week during school breaks. Employers also must give employees younger than 16 a 30-minute break for every five hours of work.

Once a North Carolina minor reaches the age of 16, she can work until 11 p.m., and up to 23 hours a week when school is in session. However, she can work additional hours with written permission from the school principal and her parent or guardian.

Youth Employment Certificates

Before a minor can begin work in North Carolina, she must fill out and submit a youth employment certificate or work permit to her employer. After she receives a firm offer of employment from a company, she can fill out one part of the certificate. The employer will fill out the rest of the certificate with information about the type of business and the work she is being hired to do.

The certificate must be signed by the minor and her parents and given to her new employer on her first day at work. The employer will verify her age with a birth certificate or driver's license, and is required by law to keep her certificate on file for two years after her employment ends, or when she turns 20, whichever is sooner.

Babysitters Exempt

A number of occupations are completely exempt from North Carolina's youth employment laws, including jobs such as babysitting that many teenagers hold. Since the law doesn't apply to these jobs, children younger than 14 may be employed in these positions.

The state's youth employment laws also don't apply to agricultural work, or to young people working in the performing arts such as actors or models.

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