If you are under age 18, the type of job you may have depends on how old you are. In Oregon, generally a minor must be at least 14 years old to work. 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 do some other type of work, you and your potential employer must make a special application. Contact the Child Labor Unit of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) for more information. (See the Other Resources section for links and contact information.)
If you are age 16-17 there are many jobs you may hold. You may not, however, take a job that is considered “high risk. These jobs include roofing, logging, and messenger services. You are also restricted from using heavy machinery or power equipment and vehicles. A complete list of jobs considered too hazardous for minors can be found on the BOLI website.
The same restrictions, and more, apply if you are age 14-15. Extra restrictions include working for breweries, wineries, cold storage plants, and grain elevators. Minors in this age group may not sell door-to-door. Again, check the Other Resources section for a link to BOLI and more information.
Even in jobs where minors are allowed to work, there are certain duties the minor may not perform. 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.
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 the employer is not in compliance with the law, the Child Labor Unit will ask for changes. If the changes required are not possible, the employment certificate application will be rejected, and the employer must terminate the minor immediately.
If BOLI accepts the application, it will issue an employment certificate showing that the employment complies with the law. Employers should contact BOLI’s Child Labor Unit for more 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 addressed 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 certificates.
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. 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. When school is in session, minors age 14-15 may work up to three hours a day on school days and eight hours a day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (non-school days). You may work up to 18 hours a week, but not earlier than 7 a.m. or later than 7 p.m. You may not work during the hours school is in session. 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. Payment at time and one-half is required 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 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 and no work is available, the employer must pay for at least one-half of the scheduled shift or one hour’s wages, whichever is more. 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 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