May 13, 2024

Ohio Child Labor Laws

Category: Labor and Employment Law

Author: Matthew T. Hurm, Esq.

Child labor laws are one of America’s great accomplishments in the last century. According to the U.S. Census, more than 18% of children between the ages of 10-15 worked. Many of them work dangerous jobs and were injured or maimed as a result. In 1938, after several attempts were overturned by the Supreme Court, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act which prohibited children under the age of 16 from working. Since that time, states have been allowed to loosen those restrictions to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work under certain conditions.

Unfortunately, rolling back these child labor laws has become a popular policy initiative in many conservative states such as Iowa and Arkansas. The Ohio State Senate passed a bill last year that would extend the hours minors could work in the state, but the House refused to consider that bill under its current moderate majority. This will likely change as a result of the 2024 election.

Nevertheless, it is important to fully understand the current status of minor labor laws in Ohio so that when changes come, we can understand their scope and impact.

How Many Hours Can a Minor Work?

Children are subject to specific minor labor laws regarding the number of hours they can work, designed to ensure that work doesn’t interfere with their education or well-being.

Restrictions on Working Hours for Children 16-17 Years Old

Labor laws for Ohio put hourly limitations on work for minors ages 16-17. These restrictions include:

  • They cannot work before 7 a.m. on any day that school is in session or 6 a.m. if the child was not employed after 8 p.m. the previous night
  • They cannot work after 11 p.m. on any night preceding a day that school is in session

Restrictions on Working Hours for Children 14-15 Years Old

For minors ages 14-15, the labor laws for Ohio are the same as for ages 16-17, except hourly limitations also include:

  • They cannot work during school hours unless it’s work-study through their school.
  • They also cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. from June 1st to September 1st or during any school holiday of 5 school days or more; or after 7 p.m. at any other time.
  • They cannot work for more than 3 hours a day in any school day.
  • They cannot work for more than 18 hours in any school week.
  • They cannot work for more than 8 hours in any day when school is not in session.
  • They cannot work for more than 40 hours in any week that school is not in session nor during school hours, unless employment is incidental to bona fide programs of vocational cooperative training, work-study, or other work-oriented programs with the purpose of educating students, and the program meets standards established by the state board of education.

Prohibited Occupations for Minors

Minors are restricted from being hired for several jobs due to safety concerns and federal labor laws. These minor work laws aim to protect the well-being of young workers, preventing them from engaging in work environments that could be hazardous or require specialized skills.

Restricted Jobs for All Minors Under 18

Minors cannot be employed in the following occupations or job environments:

  • Slaughtering, meat-packing, processing or rendering
  • Power-driven bakery machines
  • The manufacture of brick, tile and kindred products
  • The manufacture of chemicals
  • Manufacturing or storage occupations involving explosives
  • Any job with exposure to radioactive substances ionizing radiation
  • Power-driven paper product machines
  • Power-driven metal forming, punching and shearing machines
  • Jobs requiring the operation of power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears
  • Power-driven woodworking machines
  • Coal mines
  • Mining, other than coal
  • Logging and sawmilling
  • Motor vehicle occupations
  • Maritime and longshoreman occupations
  • Railroads
  • Excavation operations
  • Power-driven and hoisting apparatus
  • Roofing operations
  • Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking

Restricted Jobs for Minors Ages 14-15

In addition to the jobs listed above, minor labor laws for children younger than 16 include restrictions from:

  • All manufacturing; mining; processing; and public messenger services
  • Freezers and meat coolers and all preparation of meats for sale (except wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing and stocking)
  • Transportation; storage; communications; public utilities; construction; repair
  • Boiler or engine rooms; maintenance or repair of machinery
  • Outside window washing from window sills or scaffolding and/or ladders
  • Cooking and baking; operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, food choppers, cutters, bakery-type mixers
  • Loading or unloading goods to and from trucks
  • All warehouse work except office and clerical
  • In connection with cars and trucks involving the use of pits, racks or lifting apparatus or involving the inflation of any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring
  • Door-to-door employment unless certain requirements under the Ohio State Department of Commerce are met

Other Requirements for the Employment of Minors

  • A minor is entitled to a rest period of at least 30 minutes if they are scheduled to work for more than 5 consecutive hours.
  • An employer cannot deduct certain items from a child’s employee’s wages such as presumed negligence, failure to comply with rules, breakage of machinery, and alleged incompetence to produce work or perform according to any standard of merit.
  • If a minor wants to work in Ohio, they need to provide their employer with an age certificate, schooling certificate, and a work permit issued by their school.
  • Before starting work, both the employer and employee need to sign a written agreement that outlines the wage rate and payment details.

What to do if You Witness a Violation of Ohio’s Child Labor Laws

The hourly limitations and certain other Ohio child labor protections are all on the chopping block in the next legislative session. It is important the citizenry monitors our legislators to ensure vital protections for children remain intact.

If you think an Ohio employer is violating one or more of these minor labor laws or want further clarification on Ohio labor laws, you can schedule a free consultation with the Hurm Law Firm by calling (216) 860-1922.

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