California Child Labor Laws – 14 and 15 Year Olds


California child labor laws have provisions specifically directed to 14 and 15 year olds, including restrictions on what times during a day 14 and 15 year olds may work, how many hours in a week they many work, and what jobs or occupations they may perform. The restrictions on the employment of 14 and 15 year olds under California’s child labor laws are discussed below.




Prohibited occupations

California child labor laws prohibits 14 and 15 year old youth from working in the following occupations or performing the following work:

  • manufacturing, which includes work performed at any place upon the work of a manufacturing establishment, or upon any of the materials entering into the products of a manufacturing establishment
  • adjusting any belt to any machinery
  • sewing or lacing machine belts in any workshop or factory
  • oiling, wiping, or cleaning machinery or assisting in any of those tasks
  • operating or assisting in operating:
    • circular or band saws
    • wood shapers
    • wood-joiners
    • planers
    • sandpaper or wood-polishing machinery
    • wood turning or boring machinery
    • picker machines or machines used in picking wool, cotton,
      hair, or other material
    • carding machines
    • leather-burnishing machines
    • laundry machinery
    • printing-presses of all kinds
    • boring or drill presses
    • stamping machines used in sheet-metal and tinware, in paper and
      leather manufacturing, or in washer and nut factories
    • metal or paper-cutting machines
    • paper-lace machines
    • corner-staying machines in paper-box factories
    • corrugating rolls, such as are used in corrugated paper, roofing or washboard
      factories
    • dough brakes or cracker machinery of any description
    • wire or iron straightening or drawing machinery
    • rolling-mill machinery
    • power punches or shears
    • washing, grinding, or mixing machinery
    • calendar rolls in paper and rubber manufacturing
    • steam-boilers
    • in proximity to any hazardous or unguarded belts, machinery, or gearing
  • on a railroad, whether steam, electric, or hydraulic
  • on a vessel or boat engaged in navigation or commerce within the jurisdiction of California
  • in, about, or in connection with any processes in which
    dangerous or poisonous acids are used
  • in the manufacture or packing of paints, colors, and white or red lead
  • in soldering
  • occupations that cause dust in injurious quantities
  • in the manufacture or use of dangerous or poisonous dyes
  • in the manufacture or preparation of compositions with dangerous or poisonous gases
  • in the manufacture or use of compositions of lye where the quantity is injurious to health
  • on scaffolding
  • in heavy work in the building trades
  • in any tunnel or excavation
  • in, about or in connection with any mine, coal breaker, coke oven or quarry
  • in assorting, manufacturing or packing tobacco
  • operating any automobile, motorcar, or truck
  • in the vocation, occupation, service, or purpose of singing, playing on musical instruments, rope or wire walking, dancing, begging, or peddling
  • as a gymnast, acrobat, contortionist, or rider
  • in any obscene, indecent, or immoral purposes, exhibition, or practice whatsoever
  • in any mendicant or wandering business
  • any occupation declared particularly hazardous for the employment of 14 and 15 year old minors by the federal government in the Code of Federal Regulations
  • any occupation not declared permissible for 14 and 15 year olds by the federal government in the Code of Federal Regulations
  • any occupation declared particularly hazardous for the employment of 16 and 17 years olds by the federal government in the Code of Federal Regulations

CA Labor Code 1290-1294.1, 1308



Permitted occupations

California child labor laws allow 14 and 15 year olds to work in any occupation or job not otherwise prohibited by the law, which include, but are not limited to:

  • office and clerical work, including the operation of office machines
  • cashiering
  • selling
    • youth under 16 years of age may only engage in door-to-door sales of newspaper or magazine subscriptions, or of candy, cookies, flowers, or other merchandise or commodities within 50 miles of their place of residence CA Labor Code 1308.1
  • modeling
  • art work
  • work in advertising departments
  • window trimming
  • comparative shopping
  • price marking and tagging by hand or by machine
  • assembling orders
  • packing and shelving
  • bagging and carrying out customers’ orders
  • errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle, and public transportation
  • cleanup work, including the use of vacuum cleaners and floor waxers
  • maintenance of grounds, but not including the use of power-driven mowers or cutters
  • kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of this work, including, but not limited to, dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milkshake blenders, and coffee grinders
  • cleaning vegetables and fruits
  • wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking goods when performed in areas physically separate from areas where meat is prepared for sale and outside freezers or meat coolers

  • singer or musician in any church, school, or academy, or the teaching or learning of the science or practice of music
  • horseback riding exhibition, contest, or event other than a rough stock rodeo event, circus, or race
    • a “rough stock rodeo event” is any rodeo event operated for profit or operated by other than a nonprofit organization in which unbroken, little-trained, or imperfectly trained animals are ridden or handled by the participant, and shall include, but not be limited to, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, and bull riding
    • a “race” is any speed contest between two or more animals that are on a course at the same time and that is operated for profit or operated other than by a nonprofit organization
  • leading of livestock by a minor in nonprofit fairs, stock parades, livestock shows and exhibitions

CA Labor Code 1290-1294.3, 1308



Hours of work

California child labor laws permit employers to employ 14 and 15 year old youth for the following hours in a workweek and in a workday:

  • when school is in session
    • up to 3 hours on school days outside of school hours
    • up to 8 hours on non-school days
    • up to 18 hours per week
    • between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (Labor Day to May 31)
    • 14 and 15 year old youth may not work while school is in session if they have not completed 7th grade
  • when school is not in session
    • up to 8 hours per day
    • up to 40 hours per week
    • between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. (June 1 to Labor Day)

CA Labor Code 1391, 1392; CA Education Code 49112, 49116

Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may enroll in a work experience education program and be issued permits to work in full-time employment if:

  • the youth’s family needs the full-time earnings because of the death or desertion of the youth’s father and/or mother, and sufficient aid cannot be secured in any other manner;
  • the youth needs the full-time earnings for support because he or she minor is unable to reside with his or her family; or
  • the youth resides in foster care and, with the written authorization of their social worker, probation officer, or child protective services worker, wish to further the goal of obtaining a court ordered Declaration of Emancipation or gain knowledge of work skills and habits

CA Education Code 49135



Sports-attending services

California child labor laws permit youth who are 14 and 15 years old to perform sports-attending services in professional baseball, as defined by federal regulation, but only with prior written approval of either the school district in which the the minor is enrolled or the county board of education of the county in which that school district is located. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old who perform sports-attending services in professional baseball may work outside school hours until 12:30 a.m. on any evening preceding a non-school day and until 10:00 p.m. on an evening preceding a school day. Additionally, such youth may only be employed for no more than 5 hours on a school day and for no more than 18 hours in any week in which school is in session. Such youth may be employed for no more than 8 hours on any non-school day and for no more than 40 hours in a week in which school is not in session. The school authority that issues the written approval for the 14 or 15 year old to perform sports-attending services must submit a copy of the written approval to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement within 5 days after it is issued to the youth. CA Labor Code 1295.5



Messenger work

California child labor laws prohibit youth 15 years old and younger from working as messengers for telegraph, telephone, or messenger companies. It also prohibits youth 15 years old and younger from working for the US government while operating a telegraph, telephone, or messenger service in the distribution, transmission, or delivery of goods or messages in cities of more than 15,000 inhabitants. Any 16 or 17 year old who perform the messenger work describe above may only work after 6:00 a.m. and before 9:00 p.m. on any given day. CA Labor Code 1297