The Minimum Legal Working Age in Pennsylvania

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, how old do you have to be to start working in your state? Maybe you want a job so you can start saving up for a bike, a car or college, or maybe you just want some cash for the time you spend hanging out with your friends. Maybe you even want to help your family make it through hard times. In any case, the rules don't change, but there are a few exceptions.

 

How Old You Must Be to Work in Pennsylvania

Federal child labor laws state that the minimum age to work is generally 14, but child labor laws in each state may also indicate a minimum age to work, as well as what permits are necessary. Unfortunately, the more restrictive law applies when there's a conflict between state and federal law. In other words, if your state says 13 but federal law is 14, you typically have to wait until age 14. The state law and federal laws are in agreement in Pennsylvania. Fourteen is the standard age to work both in the state and nationally.

The Exceptions 

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, and this is often the child's parent. Children as young as age 12 can work as golf caddies, and 11-year-olds can work as news carriers.

Children of various ages can work as performers if they're in the entertainment field.

Necessary Permits 

Minors don't need an age certificate, but Pennsylvania state law requires that they have a child employment certificate – in other words, a workers permit. The permit is required until they become legal adults at age 18 and can usually be acquired at the child's school.

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 can work in Pennsylvania, they can't do so without restrictions. For example, they may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. unless they're on vacation from school. In this case, they can work until 9 p.m. Pennsylvania law also prohibits children from working more than three hours on a school day or more than eight hours on non-school days. 

Special rules apply to older teens. Minors age 16 and up may not work before 6 a.m. or after midnight during school weeks. They also can't work for more than eight hours per day or more than 28 hours per week during school weeks. They must be at least 18 to work in an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. 

More Information 

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.