Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs – FLSA Child Labor Law Exceptions


The Fair Labor Standards Act generally prohibits employer from employing youth who are 14 and 15 years old from working during certain times during the day. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. One of these exceptions is when a 14 or 15 participates in a work experience and career exploration program. Each state’s educational agency is responsible for establishing the educational standards for the work-experience and career exploration program, which must be filed with the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor. The Wage and Hour Division will, when appropriate, approve the program as one that does not interfere with schooling or with the health and well-being of the minors involved in the program. 29 CFR 570.36(b)(1), (2)




Work experience and career exploration program requirements

For state work experience and career exploration programs to be approved by the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, the programs must:

  • allow any student aged 14 or 15 to participate in the program if the authoritative local personnel have determined the student may benefit from the program;
  • award students school credit for both classroom and on-the-job experience;
  • be of reasonable size (typcially 12 to 25 students per teacher-coordinator is considered reasonable, although other student to teacher ratios may be appropriate under the circustances)
  • provide students sufficient time to take classes necessary for graduation from high school under the state’s standards as well as sufficient classroom time dedicated to job-related and employability skill instruction
  • designate a teacher-coordinator who is responsible for supervising the program and coordinating the work and education aspects of the program
  • provide for a written training agreement that must be signed by the student, the student’s parent or guardian, the employer, and the teacher-coordinator
  • provide any other safeguards ensuring the program will not interfere with schooling or with the health and well-being of the participating students

29 CFR 570.36(b)(3)



Prohibited occupations

State educational agencies may not establish work experience and career exploration programs for the following occupations:

29 CFR 570.36(c)



Record keeping and reports

The state educational agency responsible for the work experience and career exploration programs must keep the following for at least 3 year from the date schools enroll in a program:

  • the name and address of each school enrolling work experience and career exploration program students
  • the number of students enrolled in each unit
  • copies of the written training agreement for each student participating in a program

29 CFR 570.36(b)(4)(ii)



Weekly hours of work restriction

Minors enrolled in a work experience and career exploration program may only work up to 23 hours in any week and up to 3 hours in any day when school is in session. 29 CFR 570.36(d)



Duration of a program

Authorization for work experience and career exploration programs are valid for two (2) years from the date of their approval. A new application for approval must be filed when the two (2) year period ends if the program is to continue. 29 CFR 570.36(f)



Displacement of other workers

Employers may not displace other workers in order to employ a student participated in a work experience and career exploration program. 29 CFR 570.36(e)