Minors 14-17 years old may lawfully do a variety of jobs. Minors between 9 and 14 can work under only very limited circumstances. The positions minors can hold, the duties they may perform and the hours they may work vary depending on their ages. 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. To obtain an employment certificate, an employer must file an annual employment certificate application with the Bureau of Labor and Industries Wage and Hour Division. Applications are available at all bureau offices, or employers can call the Child Labor Unit of the Bureau of Labor and Industries in Portland at (971) 673-0836.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries main offices are located in Portland, and (at the time of this writing) there are regional offices in Salem, Eugene, Bend and Medford.
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 bureau for approval.
The bureau sends renewal notices to employers approximately six weeks before the expiration of their annual certificate.
The bureau’s Child Labor Unit will review the application to make sure that the duties proposed are appropriate for the minor’s age.
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. The certificate must be posted in a conspicuous place where employees can see it.
Upon termination of the minor, the employment certificate must be returned to the Bureau of Labor and Industries within 48 hours of the termination with the date of the termination listed. Because of the large number of minors hired during the summer, the BOLI Work Permit Unit receives a large volume of applications during the late spring and early summer. It can take up to a month to process employment certificate applications received during this time, so you should keep a copy of each application you submit in the appropriate personnel file until the validated certificate is returned.
Public employers who employ 10 or more minors, and private employers who employ one or more minors on a short-term basis, are eligible for group employment certificates. Call the Child Labor Unit to see if you qualify. Employment of minors in movie, television and video productions requires a special permit from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Technical Assistance Unit in Portland at ( 971) 673-0824.
Call the Child Labor Unit for a complete explanation of all the documentation requirements for employing minors.
The type of job a minor may have depends on how old the minor is. 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 occupations hazardous to 16- and 17-year-olds can be obtained by calling the U.S. Department of Labor at (503) 326-3057 and asking for “Child Labor Bulletin No. 101.” You also can look at the department’s “Youth Rules” on its website.
Minors who are at least 16 may sell products door to door in residential areas. However, the employer must first get a special registration certificate issued by the Bureau of Labor and Industries, and supply the 16- or 17-year-old with a special identification card that must be shown to customers. Employers should call the Bureau of Labor and Industries Technical Assistance Unit for additional information.
Fourteen- and 15-year olds can 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, railroad or grain elevators, and they may not sell door-to-door. Even though a minor may be working in a grocery store, restaurant or some other place where the minor’s employment is lawful, there are certain duties the minor may not perform. 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. For a complete list of occupations and duties that a 14- or 15-year old may perform, call the Child Labor Unit.
Minors younger than 14 are even more restricted in the jobs they may hold. 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 special application to the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. The employer should call the Child Labor Unit for more information and to receive an application.
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, 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.
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 the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries before you are permitted to work the extra hours. Call the Child Labor Unit for more details.
Regardless of age, an employer must pay minimum wage to minors ($8.95 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2013) 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 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, between 6 a.m., and 10 p.m., in this kind of employment.
Minors are entitled to a 15-minute break for each four hours they work. This break is separate from the meal break and should be provided as close as possible to half-way through their four hour shift. The employer must completely relieve the employee of duties during this break and during a meal break no later than five hours and one minute after the shift begins. This break should be at least one-half hour long. 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 vend newspapers, and to do domestic work — such as babysitting and lawn-mowing — in private homes.
Your employer is required to provide you with a sanitary and safe work area, with adequate lighting, ventilation, restrooms and toilets. Your employer cannot allow you to lift any weight that is too heavy for you.
If you work for your parents or for your legal guardians, different laws may apply. Parents still must pay their children at least the minimum wage and the parents are required to comply with other record-keeping obligations.
It is useful to keep the phone numbers handy for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Child Labor Unit and the Technical Assistance Unit as well. See the Other Resources page for details.
Legal editor: Diane C. Cady, August 2013