North Carolina Child Labor Laws

Teens have more flexibility to work when school is out

Smiling florist arranging bunch of flowers
Westend61/Getty Images

If you are a minor in North Carolina who wants to enter the workforce, it's important that you understand the child labor laws in the state. For example, do you know the minimum legal working age there and any other rules and regulations that apply to juveniles? You should know this information if you plan to pursue employment in the state. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Work in North Carolina?

You can begin working in North Carolina at age 14, but you must have a child employment certificate to do so.

You may obtain an employment certificate from the Department of Labor or the County Social Services. Fourteen is the same age that federal child labor laws state that the minimum age to work is, although there are some exceptions.

Different states may have different guidelines about the minimum age to work and which permits youth need to start working. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the more restrictive law will apply.

While North Carolina child labor laws allow 14-year-olds to work, the law treats teens differently based on age. For example, 14 and 15-year-olds in the state may work up to three hours on school days and up to eight hours on non-school days. They're prohibited from working more than 18 hours during weeks when school is in session and more than 40 hours during weeks when school is out.

In addition, 14 and 15-year-olds must work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except during summers when they may work through 9 p.m. The Wage-Hour Act dictates that teens under the age of 16 must be given a 30-minute break (at minimum) after they work for five consecutive hours.


The jobs juveniles have should not be hazardous. This means they should not be working in most manufacturing jobs or jobs that expose them to toxic chemicals or other dangerous substances or working conditions.

Rules for Older Teens

Teens in the 16-17-year-old age group have a bit more flexibility when it comes to working hours than younger teens do.

However, they may not work between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. when school is in session the next day. With parent permission and permission from a school administrator, it may be possible for this restriction to be waived. Older teens, like younger teens, are prohibited from working in dangerous conditions, but there are exemptions. 

Teens who participate in programs defined as apprenticeships by the Fair Labor Standards Act may be able to work in hazardous fields normally off limits to youth. Discuss your options with a potential employer or with a North Carolina child labor authority.

Wrapping Up

For more information about working in North Carolina as a minor, visit the North Carolina State Labor website. If you're interested in working requirements for other states, visit the minimum age to work by state.