The United States Department of Labor oversees work and employment-related laws. In combination with the Fair Labor Standards Act, a set of guidelines, including age and safety requirements, has been set for all U.S. workers. Every employer is subject to federal labor laws and can face fines and other penalties for each violation.
The federal minimum age for nonagricultural work is 14 in the United States. There are rules as to how much time a person under age 16 can work per week. Children ages 14 and 15 can work up to three hours on school days and no more than 18 hours per week when school is in session. Young workers can work only eight hours on non-school days and never more than 40 hours per week. There are no hour restrictions for workers 16 and older.
Jobs in Agriculture
Children can hold agricultural jobs at younger ages with restrictions. Anyone age 16 or over can work unlimited hours at any time. Children between 12 and 15 years old can only work when school is out. Even children under age 12 can work on a farm when school is not in session.
Exceptions to Age Rule
Certain jobs are open to people of all ages and the minimum age rule does not apply, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These jobs include newspaper delivery (not with a car); television, radio or theater performances; jobs held in family businesses that are qualified nonhazardous jobs; babysitting and minor chores at a person's residence.
Some, but not all, states require that youths under a certain age hold an employment certificate or age certification. In most states that use certification, the requirement is for workers under the age of 16 but some states require certification for workers up to age 18.