Work-Study 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-study program. Work study programs are programs approved by state educational agencies and by the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, that provide minors collegiate-level classroom and on-the-job training in a particular occupation. 29 CFR 570.37(a), (b)




Work experience and career exploration program requirements

For work-study programs to be approved by the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, the programs must:

  • allow any student aged 14 or 15, who is enrolled in a college preparatory curriculum, to participate in the program if the authoritative local personnel have determined the student may benefit from the program;
  • provide students sufficient time to take classes necessary to complete the college preparatory curriculum under the state’s standards as well as training in workplace safety and state and federal child labor rules
  • 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 570.37(b)(3)



Prohibited occupations

Minors who are 14 and 15 years old may only participate in work-study programs for occupations permitted for minors who are 14 and 15 years old. 29 CFR 570.37(b)(4)(i)



Record keeping and reports

The school supervising the work-study program and the employer must keep a copy of each student’s written participation agreement for at least 3 year from the date the student enrolls in the work-study program. 29 CFR 570.37(b)(4)(ii)



Weekly hours of work restriction

Minors enrolled in a work experience and career exploration program may only work up to 18 hours in any week school is in session. 29 CFR 570.36(d) Students may work during school hours as follows based on a four-week cycle: (1) in three of the four weeks, students may work during school hours on only one day per week for no more than 8 hours, and (2) in the fourth week, students may work during school hours on two days and for no more than 8 hours on each of those days. Except for these specific exceptions, work-study students are subject to the same time restrictions as other 14 and 15 year olds. 29 CFR 570.37(c)



Duration of a program

Authorization for work experience and career exploration programs are valid for up to 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 570.37(d)