The type of job a minor may have depends on how old the person is. In Oregon, generally a minor must be at least 14 years old to work. A 16- or 17-year-old may work many jobs, but the law restricts the use of certain heavy machinery and employment in some high risk jobs such as those in roofing, logging, mining, mill work, excavation, messenger services, slaughter houses and jobs involving power equipment and vehicles. A complete list of jobs considered too hazardous for minors can be found on the Department of Labor’s website; see the Other Resources list of employment law agencies and their websites.
Fourteen- and 15-year olds may also perform various kinds of work. In addition to the work that may not be performed by16 or 17 year-olds, 14- or 15-year-olds may not work at breweries, wineries, cold storage plants, foundries, railroads, grain elevators, and they may not sell door-to-door. A complete list of work determined to be hazardous for a minor under 16 can be obtained from Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”). Even though a minor may be working in a grocery store, restaurant or some other place where the minor’s employment is lawful in general, there are certain duties the minor may not perform for those types of employers. The prohibited job duties generally relate to the use of or exposure to power-driven machinery. For example, if you work at a gas station, you may not use pits, racks or lifting apparatus, or tire inflation devices.
Minors at least 9 years old but under 13 may pick berries and beans in Oregon during the summer. If you are younger than 14 and want to work in a nonagricultural occupation, you and your employer jointly must make a special application to BOLI’s Child Labor Unit.
To employ a minor, employers must apply for a single annual employment certificate from the Child Labor Unit. If any of the information on the application shows that you as an employer are not in compliance with the law, the Child Labor Unit will ask you to make any necessary changes to bring the minor employee’s work duties into compliance. If the changes required are not possible, the employment certificate application will be rejected, and you must terminate the minor immediately.
If the application is accepted, the Bureau of Labor and Industries will issue you an employment certificate showing that the employment complies with the law.
Employers should contact BOLI’s Child Labor Unit for additional information.
Employers are required by law to verify the age of the minors they hire. The best method is to check the minor’s birth certificate, driver’s license or passport — and make a copy of it. Employers also must maintain a list of all minors hired and post a validated employment certificate in a conspicuous place. If a minor is performing agricultural work, there are different requirements imposed by state and federal laws. If an issue is address by both authorities, the stricter standard applies.
If the employer changes the work duties of minors at any time, the employer must fill out a Notice of Change in Duties form and send it to the Child Labor Unit for approval.
BOLI sends renewal notices to employers before the expiration of their annual certificate.
Because of the large number of minors hired during the summer, BOLI receives a large volume of applications during the late spring and early summer. It can take longer during this period of time to process employment certificate applications received, so employers should keep a copy of each application submitted in the appropriate personnel file until the validated certificate is returned.
There are special rules for employment of minors in the entertainment industry. Employers intending to hire minors or minors who want to work in entertainment should contact the Child Labor Unit for a complete explanation of all these special rules.
The number of hours a minor may work depends on how old the minor is. Minors aged 14 and 15 may, during the weeks that school is in session, work up to three hours a day on school days and eight hours a day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (non-school days)- up to 18 hours a week. They may not work during any hour that school is in session. During the school year, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work earlier than 7 a.m. or later than 7 p.m. When school is out, 14- and 15-year-olds may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., from June 1 to Labor Day and during Christmas and spring breaks, up to 40 hours per week.
Sixteen- or 17-year-olds may work up to 44 hours in a week, and the hours are not restricted. If you are 16 or 17 and your employer wants you to work more than 44 hours a week, or if you work in a cannery and your employer wants you to work more than 10 hours in one day, he or she must first secure a special overtime permit from BOLI before you are permitted to work the extra hours. Contact the Child Labor Unit for more details.
Regardless of age, an employer must pay minimum wage to minors and time and one-half for all work done over 40 hours in one week. Employers may not make deductions from a minor’s pay for breakage or loss caused by its employees. If a minor is earning minimum wage, an employer may not deduct for the cost of tools or maintenance. The employer must pay the cost of required uniforms for minimum-wage employees and for some other low-wage employees according to a formula. If a minor is scheduled to work and shows up, the employer must pay for at least one-half of the scheduled shift or one hour’s wages, whichever is greater, even if no work is available. All other wage laws that apply to adult workers apply to minors as well, including the requirements that employers set and maintain a regular payday, provide a statement of all deductions from wages on each payday, and, when the job ends, pay within the time frames provided by law.
Note that seasonal nonprofit youth camps are not subject to minimum wage or overtime laws, except that minors under 16 are not permitted to work over 40 hours per week.
Minors are entitled to a 15-minute break for each four hours they work. This break is separate from the meal break. Minor are entitled to 30-minute meal breaks for any shift that is six or more hours long. The employer must completely relieve the employee of duties during this these breaks. Employees do not get paid for this meal break. If, however, the employer is unable to completely relieve the employee during the meal break, or if the employee remains on call, the employer must pay for the entire meal break. Minors under 16 may not perform any duty or be on-call during this meal break.
Special rules allow minors to deliver or sell newspapers, and to do domestic work — such as babysitting and lawn-mowing — in private homes.
Employers are required to provide employees, including minors, with a sanitary and safe work area with adequate lighting, ventilation, restrooms and toilets. Employers cannot allow employees to lift any weight that is too heavy for them.
If you are a minor and you work for your parents or for your legal guardians, different laws may apply. For work other than chores or other domestic work around home, parents still must pay their children at least the minimum wage and the parents are required to comply with other record-keeping obligations.
See also: Other Resources (Employment Law).
Legal editor: Diane C. Cady, September 2019