What Is the Minimum Legal Working Age in Pennsylvania?

Job restrictions depend on age

Mixed race boy pushing wheelbarrow to sheep in barn
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If you're a Pennsylvania youth who's looking for a job, you need to know what the minimum legal working age in the state is. In other words, how old do you have to be to start working in your state?

Perhaps you want a job to save up for a bike, a car, college or the time you spend hanging out with friends. Perhaps you're a dutiful child who's working to help your family make it through hard times. No matter the case, knowing when you can begin working and in what capacity can set you on the right path in the labor force.

How Old Must You Be to Work in Pennsylvania?

Federal child labor laws state that the minimum age to work is 14 (with some exceptions). However, child labor laws in each state may also indicate the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the more restrictive law will apply.

In Pennsylvania, the state law and federal law are in agreement, so there's no conflict about when youth may begin working. Fourteen is the standard age to work both in Pennsylvania and nationally. There are exceptions to this rule, though.

Children under 14 may work if they're employed on a farm or in domestic service in a private residence. On farms, however, the farmer must be the person who hires the child. Oftentimes, this is the child's parent. Also, children at age 12 may work as golf caddies, and children at age 11 may work as news carriers. Children of various ages may work as performers if they're in the entertainment field.

In order to work, minors do not need an age certificate, but Pennsylvania state law requires them to have a child employment certificate. Children under 16 should also have a statement from their parent or guardian giving permission for them to work and recognizing that they understand the duties and hours of employment.

Hours Teens May Work

Although 14 and 15 year olds may work in Pennsylvania, they may not do so without restrictions. For example, they may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., unless they're on vacation. Then, they may work until 9 pm. Pennsylvania law also prohibits children from working more than three hours on a school day or more than eight hours on non-school days. 

Older teens have somewhat more flexibility in the labor force. Minors 16 and up may not work before 6 a.m. or after midnight during school weeks. They may also not work for more than eight hours per day or more than 28 hours per week during school weeks. 

Wrapping Up 

If you're interested in more information about working in Pennsylvania as a youth, visit the Pennsylvania State Labor website. If you're interested in the child labor requirements for other states, consult this list of the minimum age to work by state.