California Child Labor Laws – 16 and 17 Year Olds


California child labor laws have provisions specifically directed to 16 and 17 year olds, including restrictions on what times during a day 16 and 17 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 16 and 17 year olds under California’s child labor laws are discussed below.




Prohibited occupations

California child labor laws prohibit employers from employing 16 and 17 years olds in 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 1294.1(b)

Youth who are 16 and 17 years old are also prohibited from working for any obscene, indecent, or immoral purposes, exhibition, or practice whatsoever. CA Labor Code 1308(a)(3)



Hours of work

California child labor laws permit employers to employ 16 and 17 year old youth for the following hours in a workweek and in a workday:

  • when school is in session
    • up to 4 hours on school days outside of school hours
    • up to 8 hours on non-school days or days preceding non-school days
    • up to 48 hours per week
    • between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., except on evenings proceding non-school days 16 and 17 year olds may work until 12:30 a.m.
    • 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 48 hours per week
    • between 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., so long as the day does not preceed a school day

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

Youth who are 16 and 17 years old and enrolled in a work experience or cooperative vocational program approved by the California Department of Education may work until 12:30 a.m. on any day and may work more than up to 8 hours on a school day. CA Labor Code 1391, 1392; CA Education Code 49116 Additionally, 16 and 17 year olds who work in agricultural packing plants during peak harvest season may work up to 10 hours on days when school is not in session if they have received a special permit from the Labor Commissioner to do so. CA Labor Code 1393

High school graduates or youth awarded certificates of proficiency may be employed for the same hours as adults. CA Labor Code 1286



Gas service stations

Under California child labor laws, youth who are 16 and 17 years old may perform the following activities at gas service stations:

  • dispensing gas or oil
  • courtesy service
  • car cleaning, washing, and polishing
  • any duties 14 and 15 year olds are specifically permitted to perform

CA Labor Code 1294.5(a)

Youth who are 16 and 17 years old may not perform activities at gas service stations that involve the use of pits, racks, or lifting apparatus, or that involves inflating tires mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring. CA Labor Code 1294.5(b)



Sports-attending services

California child labor laws permit youth who are 16 and 17 years old to perform sports-attending services in professional baseball outside of school hours for up to 5 hours on a school day. CA Labor Code 1295.5(b)