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Article Index
Department of Labor’s List of Hazardous Jobs for Minors
Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA)
Proposed Legislation CARE Act
All Pages

Current Legislation

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA)

  • The FLSA has different regulations for agricultural and non-agricultural employment
  • There is no minimum wage requirement for agriculture and there is no overtime pay
  • Children can work at an earlier age and more often in agriculture than in other industries. See chart below


Non agricultural employment law

Agricultural employment law



Minors of all ages are allowed to deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movies, or theatrical productions, work for their parents’ nonfarm business unless it requires hazardous work

Minors of all ages may be employed outside of school hours with parental consent on “small farms” (farms where employees are exempt from the Federal Minimum Wage provisions. Usually farms with less than 11 employees)

12 and 13

Minors of all ages are allowed to deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movies, or theatrical productions, work for their parents’ nonfarm business unless it requires hazardous work

12- and 13-year-olds may work outside of school hours in any non-hazardous agricultural job with written parental consent or on a farm that also employs their parent(s) or person standing in place of the parent(s)

14 and 15

May be employed for non-hazardous work outside of school hours with the following exceptions: 1. Not before 7 AM and not after 7 PM (not after 9 PM through the summer)

2. Not more than 3 hours on a school day, including Fridays

3. Not more than 18 hours during a school week

4. Not more than 8 hours on a nonschool day

5. Not more than 40 hours during a nonschool week

May work outside of school hours in any agricultural occupation except those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor

16 and 17

Minors age 16 and 17 may perform any job not declared hazardous by the Secretary, and are not subject to restrictions on hours

Once a youth reaches 16 years of age, he or she is no longer subject to the Federal agricultural youth employment provisions and may be employed for any kind of agricultural work, including hazardous work

Department of Labor’s List of Hazardous Jobs for Minors


Under the FLSA, the Department of Labor is responsible for determining what jobs are hazardous and therefore prohibited for children under age 16 working on farms that are not owned or operated by their parents (or for some tasks, children ages 14 and older who have received special training). Children 16 years of age and older are allowed to work in agriculture with no restrictions.

List of farm jobs commonly performed by children declared Hazardous by the Secretary of Labor

  • Operating a tractor of over 20 Power Take Off (PTO) horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its parts to or from such a tractor
  • Operating or working with a corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, unloading mechanism of a nongravity-type self-unloading wagon or trailer, power post-hole digger, power post driver, or nonwalking-type rotary tiller
  • Operating or working with a trencher or earthmoving equipment; fork lift; potato combine; or power-driven circular, band or chain saw
  • Working in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by a bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; a sow with suckling pigs; or a cow with a newborn calf (with umbilical cord present)
  • Felling, bucking, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with a butt diameter of more than 6 inches
  • Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height of over 20 feet
  • Driving a bus, truck, or automobile to transport passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or helper
  • Working inside a fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere; an upright silo within 2 weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in operating position; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes
  • Handling or applying toxic agricultural chemicals identified by the word "poison" or "warning," or identified by a "skull or crossbones" on the label (chemicals classified as Category I or II of toxicity). Children under 16 can still work with pesticides of lower toxicity
  • Handling or using explosives
  • Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia (commonly used as fertilizer)

Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA)

Although agriculture is one of the most hazardous jobs in the US and is one of the few industries in which the families (who may work or live on the farm as well) are also at risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries, OSHA excludes agricultural workplaces from the majority of the standards protecting workers, including standards regarding electrocution, and unguarded machinery, requirements for ladder safety, and whistle-blower protections. OSHA has several safety and health regulations specifically for agriculture, but farms with fewer than 11 employees are exempt from OSHA regulations.  This means that approximately a third of all farm workers work on farms exempt from OSHA's basic health and safety standards. An average of 113 youth under the age of 20 die annually from farm-related injuries, with most of these deaths occurring to youth age 16-19 (when they are allowed to perform all hazardous work with no age restrictions).  

Proposed Legislation


The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) was introduced to congress by US Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard for the 6th time on June 16th 2011. “It is unacceptable that children who work in agriculture, one of this country’s most dangerous occupations, are less protected under U.S. law than juveniles working in other occupations,” Congresswoman Roybal-Allard said when introducing it. “The CARE bill addresses this inequity by raising labor standards and protections for farmworker children to the same level set for children in occupations outside of agriculture.”

The CARE Act seeks to

  1. Bring the age and work hour standards for children working in agriculture up to the standards set under FLSA for all other working youth. This would:
    • Prohibit children below age 14 working for hire in agriculture
    • Limit the number of hours that 14- and 15-year-olds can work to 3 hours a day on a school day; 18 hours a week during a school week; 8 hours a day on a non-school day, and 40 hours a week during non-school weeks
    • Set 18 as the minimum age for hazardous jobs
  2. Raise the labor standards for pesticide exposure to the levels currently enforced by the EPA
  3. Serve as a strong deterrent for employer violations:
    • Impose a minimum penalty of $500
    • Increase the maximum civil monetary penalty for child labor violations from $11,000 to $15,000
    • Increase the maximum penalty to $100,000 and impose a criminal penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment for willful or repeat violations that lead to the death or serious injury of a child worker
  4. Require greater data collection by the Department of Labor on the industries in which minors are employed (specifically agriculture); require them to record the types of violations found; and issue an annual report on child labor in the U.S. It also requires employers to report serious work-related injuries or illnesses of minors:
  5. Preserve the current exemptions for children working on their family farms

Visit http://roybal-allard.house.gov/ to learn more about Roybal-Allard and her work on the CARE Act.

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