Apprenticeships and Student Learner Programs – FLSA Child Labor Laws for 16 and 17 Year Olds


The Fair Labor Standards Act generally allows youth who are 16 and 17 years old to work in any occupation, so long as the occupation has not been deemed particularly hazardous or detrimental to youth health or welfare. However, there is an exception to this general rule for some hazardous occupations when the youth participate in a qualified apprenticeship or student-learner program, both of which are discussed below. The hazardous occupations subject to this exception include:



Apprenticeships

For the exception for apprenticeships to apply to 16 and 17 year old youth, the apprenticeship must meet the following criteria:

  • the youth must be employed in a craft recognized as an apprenticeable trade;
  • the particularly hazardous work of the occupations is incidental to the youth’s training;
  • the particularly hazardous work is intermittent and for short periods of time;
  • the particularly hazardous work is performed under the direct and close supervision of a journeyman as a necessary part of the training; and
  • the youth is:
    • registered by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training of the US Department of Labor as employed in accordance with the standards established by the Bureau,
    • registered by a State agency as employed in accordance with the standards of the State apprenticeship agency recognized by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, or
    • employed under a written apprenticeship agreement and conditions which are found by the US Department of Labor to conform substantially with Federal or State standards.

29 CFR 570.50(b)


Student-learners

For the exception for student learners to apply to 16 and 17 year old youth, the student learner program must meet the following criteria:

  • the youth must be enrolled in a course of study and training in a cooperative vocational training program under a recognized State or local educational authority or in a course of study in a substantially similar program conducted by a private school and;
  • the youth is employed under a written agreement which provides that:
    • the particularly hazardous work performed by the student-learner is incidental to his training;
    • the particularly hazardous work is intermittent and for short periods of time;
    • the particularly hazardous work is performed under the direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person;
    • safety instructions will be given by the school and correlated by the employer with on-the-job training; and
    • a schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed by the youth on the job have been prepared.

29 CFR 570.50(c)

The student-learner written agreement must contain the name of student-learner, and be signed by the employer and the school coordinator or principal. Both the school and the employer must keep copies of agreements from each youth participating in the student-learner program. The student-learner exception may be revoked in any individual situation where it is found that reasonable precautions have not been observed for the safety of the enrolled minors. A high school graduate may be employed in an occupation in which he has completed training as provided in this paragraph as a student-learner, even though he is not yet 18 years of age. 29 CFR 570.50(c)