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Child Labor in Nonagricultural Occupations in North Carolina
Joint Federal and State Requirements
Federal Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and
North Carolina Youth Employment
Provisions of the Wage and Hour Act (WHA) For Nonagricultural Occupations

Overview | Age Requirements | Hazardous Occupations | Detrimental Occupations | Hour Restrictions |
ABC Restrictions | Enforcement & Penalty | Contact Information


This reference guide provides general information about the federal child labor and North Carolina youth employment provisions applicable to non-agricultural occupations. Different federal standards apply to farm work, but the North Carolina youth employment provisions do not apply to farm work.

Both the U.S. and N.C. Departments of Labor are committed to helping young workers find positive and early employment experiences that can be so important to their development, but the work must be safe. Child labor provisions of the FLSA and the youth employment provisions of the WHA were enacted to ensure that the health, well-being or educational opportunities of young workers are not jeopardized.   It is an unfortunate fact that children do get injured, even killed, in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that more than 210,000 American children suffer occupational injuries every year.  More than 70,000 of these injuries are serious enough to warrant emergency room treatment.

Employers may be subject to either the federal child labor or the North Carolina youth employment provisions or both. The federal provisions apply under the same coverage criteria as established for the other provisions of the FLSA. Refer to Fact Sheet 14 or federal regulations. The North Carolina youth employment provisions generally apply to all employers doing business in North Carolina regardless of their size or number of employees.  However governmental, agricultural and domestic employers are totally exempt from the North Carolina youth employment provisions, including the requirement to obtain a North Carolina work permit for youths under 18.

Both federal and state laws govern the employment of young workers and when both are applicable, the law with the more stringent standard must be obeyed.

The child labor/youth employment provisions do not:

  • apply where no FLSA or WHA employment relationship exists, such as bona fide volunteers in medical, educational, religious or nonprofit organizations where an employer-employee relationship does not exist;
  • regulate such issues as discrimination, harassment, verbal or physical abuse, or morality, though other federal and state laws may.


The FLSA and the child labor regulations issued at 29 CFR, Part 570, and the WHA and the youth employment regulations establish both hours and occupational standards for youth. Children of any age are generally permitted to work for businesses entirely owned by their parents, except those under 16 may not be employed in mining or manufacturing, and no one under 18 may be employed in any occupation the Secretary of Labor has declared to be hazardous or the Commissioner of Labor has declared to be detrimental.


Once a youth reaches 18 years of age, he or she is no longer subject to the child labor/youth employment provisions. Youths under 18 years of age must obtain a youth employment certificate (work permit) when employed, even if they are employed by their parents. The certificate and the issuing instructions are obtained from the N.C. Department of Labor Web site

16 and17

Basic minimum age for employment. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may be employed in any occupation other than those declared hazardous or detrimental. No youth under 18 years of age who is enrolled in school in grade 12 or lower may be employed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. when there is school for the youth the next day. Sixteen- and 17-year-old youths may get the hour restriction waived upon written permission from the parent/guardian and from the youth's principal/designee.

14 and 15

Young persons 14 and 15 years of age may be employed outside school hours in a variety of non-manufacturing and non-hazardous/non-detrimental jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions.

Under 14

Children under 14 years of age may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations. Permissible employment for such children is limited to work that is exempt from the FLSA and WHA (such as actors or performers in motion pictures, theatrical, radio or television productions). Children may also perform work not covered by the FLSA or WHA such as completing minor chores around private homes or casual babysitting.


The Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs)

The FLSA and the WHA both establish an 18-year minimum age for those nonagricultural occupations that the Secretary of Labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old minors, or detrimental to their health or well-being. In addition, Child Labor Regulation No. 3 also bans 14- and 15-year-olds from performing any work proscribed by the HOs. There are currently 17 HOs that include a partial or total ban on the occupations or industries they cover. NOTE: The NCDOL has adopted the 17 federal HOs as a part of the WHA in addition to establishing its own detrimental occupations, which are discussed after this section.

HO 1. Manufacturing or storing explosives—prohibits minors working where explosives are manufactured or stored, but permits work in retail stores selling ammunition, gun shops, trap and skeet ranges and police stations.

HO 2. Driving a motor vehicle or work as an outside helper on motor vehicles—bans operating motor vehicles on public roads and working as outside helpers on motor vehicles. Seventeen year-olds may drive cars or small trucks during daylight hours for limited times and under strictly limited circumstances as specified in federal Fact Sheet #34.

HO 3. Coal mining—bans most jobs in coal mining.

HO 4. Logging and sawmilling—bans most jobs in logging and timbering (including cutting firewood) and in sawmills.

HO 5. Power-driven woodworking machines—bans the operation of most power-driven woodworking machines, including chain saws, nailing machines, and sanders.*

HO 6. Exposure to radioactive substances and ionizing radiation—bans exposure to radioactive materials.

HO 7. Power-driven hoisting apparatus—bans the operation of most power-driven hoisting apparatus such as forklifts, non-automatic elevators, bobcats and cranes, including most high lift trucks, but does not apply to chair-lifts at ski resorts or to electric and pneumatic lifts used to raise cars in garages and gasoline service stations.

HO 8. Power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines—bans the operation of certain power-driven metal-working machines but permits the use of most machine tools.*

HO 9. Mining, other than coal—bans most jobs in mining at metal mines, quarries, aggregate mines, and other mining sites including underground work in mines, work in or about open cut mines, open quarries, and sand and gravel operations.

HO 10. Power-driven meat-processing machines, slaughtering and meat packing plants—bans the operation of power-driven meat processing machines, such as meat slicers, saws and meat choppers, wherever used (including restaurants and delicatessens). This ban includes the use of this machinery on items other than meat, such as cheese and vegetables. HO 10 also bans most jobs in slaughtering and meatpacking establishments.*

HO 11. Power-driven bakery machines—bans the operation of power-driven bakery machines such as vertical dough and batter mixers (including most countertop models), dough rollers and dough sheeters. This ban covers such machinery wherever used.

HO 12. Power-driven paper-products machines—bans the operation of power-driven paper processing machines including scrap paper balers, paper box compactors, guillotine paper cutters and shears, platen printing presses, and envelope die-cutting presses. The prohibitions concerning balers and compactors extend to equipment that processes other materials in addition to paper, such as trash, foam rubber, metal, food waste, plastic and fabric. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may load, but not operate or unload, certain balers and compactors under very specific guidelines as specified in federal Fact Sheet #57.


HO 13. Manufacturing of brick, tile and related products—bans most jobs in the manufacture of brick, tile and similar products.

HO 14. Power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears—bans the operation of various types of power-driven band and circular saws and guillotine shears, no matter what kind of items are being cut by the saws and shears.*

HO 15. Wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations—bans most jobs in wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations, but does not apply to remodeling or repair work which is not extensive.

HO 16. Roofing operations—bans all jobs in roofing and related operations including work performed on the ground and removal of the old roof. *NEW

HO 17. Trenching and excavation operations—bans most jobs in trenching and excavation work, including working in a trench more than four feet deep.*

* The regulations provide a limited exemption from HOs 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 17 for apprentices and student-learners who are at least 16 years of age and enrolled in approved programs. (29 CFR Part 570.50)

The term "operation" as used in HOs 5, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14 generally includes the tasks of operating, setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning the equipment.


Detrimental Occupations

In addition to the 17 HOs, the WHA establishes nine detrimental occupations that the N.C. Commissioner of Labor has declared to be detrimental to the health and well-being of all youths under the age of 18. These detrimental occupations apply to most employers in North Carolina. The only employers exempt from these detrimental occupations are governmental, agricultural, and domestic employers. All other employers operating in North Carolina are subject to these detrimental occupations regardless of federal or state coverage. No youth under 18 years of age may be employed by an employer in the following nine detrimental occupations:

(1) Welding, brazing and torch cutting as defined in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry Standards, 29 CFR 1910.251 through 255 and OSHA Construction Standards, 29 CFR 1926.350 through 354:
OSHA General Industry Standards, 29 CFR 1910. 251 through 255:

OSHA Construction Standards, 29 CFR 1926.350 through 354:


(2) Any processes where quartz or any other form of silicon dioxide or an asbestos silicate is present in powdered form;

For information on asbestos, go to

(3) Any work involving exposure to lead or any of its compounds in any form;

For information on lead, go to


(4) At any work involving exposure to benzene or any benzene compound which is volatile or which can penetrate the skin;

For information on benzene, go to


(5) Occupations in canneries, seafood and poultry processing establishments which involve the use, setting up, adjusting, repairing, or cleaning of cutting or slicing machines, or freezing or packaging activities;

(6) Any work which involves the risk of falling a distance of 10 feet or more, including the use of ladders and scaffolds (includes construction workers and firefighters and other emergency personnel under 18);

(7) Any work as an electrician or electrician's helper [NCDOL position that "electrician's helper" means an employee helping an electrician with live (hot) wires, fuse/breaker boxes, etc. where there is the danger of electrical shock];

(8) Any work in confined spaces as defined by OSHA General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 1910.146 and OSHA Construction Standard, 29 CFR 1926.21;
OSHA General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 1910.146:
OSHA Construction Standard, 29 CFR 1926.21:

(9) Occupations in which the use of a respirator is required by OSHA General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134 or OSHA Construction Industry Standards, 29 CFR 1926 (includes firefighters and other emergency personnel under 18).
OSHA General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134:
OSHA Construction Standard, 29 CFR 1926:


NOTE: Youths and employers working under the supervision of bona fide apprenticeship and student learner programs, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, are exempt from the prohibition against employment of youths in detrimental occupations.


The child labor and youth employment regulations limit the times of day, number of hours, and industries and occupations in which 14- and 15-year-olds may be employed. For details on permitted industries and occupations, please refer to federal Child Labor Bulletin 101.

Hours Standards for 14- and 15-Year-Olds

Child Labor Regulation No. 3, 29 CFR Part 570, Subpart C, (CL Reg 3),and the North Carolina youth employment provisions limit the hours and the times of day that 14- and 15-year-olds may work to:

  • outside school hours*;
  • no more than 3 hours on a school day (including Friday);
  • no more than 8 hours on a nonschool day;
  • no more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session
  • no more than 40 hours during a week when school is not in session;
  • between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except between June 1 and Labor day when the evening hour is extended to 9 p.m.
  • Youths under the age of 16 must be given at least a 30-minute break after five consecutive hours of work under the Wage Hour Act.
  • School hours are determined by the local public school in the area the minor is residing while employed.  This is true even if the minor does not attend the public school (i.e. attends a private school or is home-schooled).
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may work in most office jobs and retail and food service establishments, but may not work in processing, mining or in any workroom or workplace where goods are manufactured or processed.
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may be employed in food preparation, but they may not perform any baking activities and may only perform cooking which involves the use of (1) electric or gas grills that do not entail cooking over an open flame, and (2) deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets into and out of the oil or grease as specified in federal Fact Sheet #58. NEW
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may be employed in occupations such as bagging groceries, office work, stocking shelves or cashiering.
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds are also prohibited from working in any of the hazardous orders, detrimental occupations, or in occupations involving transportation, construction, warehousing, communications and public utilities.
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may not operate most power-driven machinery, including lawn mowers, lawn trimmers and weed cutters. Such youth may operate most office machines and certain equipment found in food service establishments such as dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milk shake blenders, and coffee grinders. 


Special Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Restrictions Under the Wage Hour Act

Any employer that holds an on-premises ABC permit for the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages shall not employ any youth:

  • Under 16 years of age on the premises for any purpose; except that youths at least 14 years of age can work on the outside grounds of the premises with written consent from a parent or guardian as long as the youth is not involved with the preparation, serving, dispensing, or sale of alcoholic beverages. Parent or guardian signature on work permit is acceptable as written consent.
  • Under 18 years of age to prepare, serve, dispense or sell any alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and mixed beverages.


  • On-premises ABC permit is one that allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises where the sale occurred.
  • “Premises” is the land, building or combination of these as described in the on-premise ABC permit.
  • To sell means to offer, to accept the order for, to exchange or deliver for money or equivalent, or to handle payment.
  • There is a parental exemption that allows youths under 16 who are employed by their parents to work on the premises as long as another person at least 21 years of age is in charge of and present at the licensed premises. Such youths are still prohibited from preparing, serving, dispensing or selling the alcoholic beverages.


Investigators of the Wage and Hour Division who are stationed across the U.S. enforce the child labor provisions of the FLSA. As the Secretary of Labor's authorized representatives, they have the authority to conduct investigations and gather data on wages, hours, and other employment conditions or practices, in order to determine compliance with child labor and the other provisions of the FLSA.

Violators of the child labor provisions may be subject to a civil money penalty of up to $11,000 for each minor employed in violation.

The FLSA prohibits the shipment in interstate commerce of goods that were produced in violation of the Act's minimum wage, overtime, or child labor provisions. The FLSA authorizes the Department of Labor to obtain injunctions to prohibit the movement of such "hot goods."

The N.C. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Bureau has investigators located throughout the state who enforce the youth employment provisions of the WHA and provide technical assistance. As the N.C. Commissioner of Labor's authorized representatives, they have the authority to conduct investigations and gather data on wages, hours, and other employment conditions or practices, in order to determine compliance with the youth employment provisions and the other provisions of the WHA. Violators of the youth employment provisions may be subject to a civil money penalty of up to $250 for each youth employment violation

How can I get more information on these laws?

For more information on the North Carolina youth employment provisions, including how to obtain a work permit, you may call (919) 807-2796 (Raleigh), toll-free (N.C. only) 1-800-NCLABOR (1-800-625-2267), or visit the NCDOL Web site at  

For more information about the federal child labor provisions or those applicable to employment in agriculture, call the Wage and Hour Division in either Charlotte at (704) 749-3360 or Raleigh at (919) 790-2741. You may also call toll-free 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) or visit the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at or

For more information about other laws enforced by the federal Wage and Hour Division, visit e-laws Advisor at

This reference guide is intended as general information only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the N.C. Department of Labor are providing this information as a public service. This information and related materials are presented to give the public access to information on the appropriate Department of Labor programs. You should be aware that, while we try to keep the information timely and accurate, there will often be a delay between official publications of the materials and the modification of these pages. Therefore, we make no express or implied guarantees. The Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations remain the official source for regulatory information published by the United States Department of Labor. The Wage and Hour Act of North Carolina (WHA) and the administrative rules promulgated thereunder remain the official source for regulatory information published by the N.C. Department of Labor. Both agencies will make every effort to correct errors brought to our attention.

Revised April 21, 2005

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