Pennsylvania Child Labor Law

As Pennsylvania teenagers start thinking of summer jobs, they and their parents need to learn about the layers of Pennsylvania law regarding child labor. With the summer hiring season approaching, Pennsylvania employers need to brush up on their legal hiring and reporting restrictions for teen employees.

Peppered with some very old notions, such as language prohibiting “youth peddling” and restrictions on children working with dynamite, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law (CLL) evolved over the past century as Pennsylvania changed from a farm economy to an industrial economy. Few changes have taken place in recent years and many of the provisions of the CLL may seem antiquated to modern teens, parents, and employers.

The CLL first sets out various age restrictions. Children who are 11 or older may deliver or sell newspapers or other merchandise under supervision, Children between the ages of 12 and 14 may be employed as caddies but may not carry more than one bag at a time or work more than 18 holes in one day. Children between the ages of 14 and 16 are generally employable, provided their employment does not interfere with their school attendance.

The CLL next sets out additional important restrictions that regulate the kinds of work and workplaces, times of day, and length of hours that children may work. Children under 16 may not be employed in any manufacturing or mechanical occupation or process. They may not work in “heavy Work” in building trades, in tunnels, “in stripping or assorting tobacco,” or on scạffolding. They may not operate any motor vehicle of any kind or work in a coal mine. Just about the only machinery that a 14-year-old can use legally is a lawnmower. The CLL specifically notes that children 14 and over can Work in amusement parks, golf courses, and ski resorts as long as they do not working any areas where alcohol is served.

Children under 18 may not Work in any dangerous job or in a job which could be “injurious to health or morals.” While many manufacturing jobs are banned for children under 18, including gunpowder and certain paint manufacture and use, the CLL is silent as to what might be considered dangerous in modern kitchens and retail stores. Some retail stores use machinery to disassemble and bundle cardboard boxes; many retail employers are left to presume that 16year-old employees probably cannot work with such machinery,

Teens under 18 cannot be directly involved in handling or serving alcohol. If 16, a child may work in that part of a club, hotel, motel, or restaurant where alcohol is not served. Further, if 16, an employee may clear tables, serve food, and perform duties not involving the handling of alcohol in an establishment where revenue from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages is at least 40% of the gross food and beverage revenue.

The limitations on times and hours of work permitted for minors are detailed. Children under 18 may not work for more than eight hours a day, or for more than six consecutive days a week, or in excess of 44 hours in a week. If enrolled in school, children under 18 may only Work 28 hours a Week during the school year. Children under 16 may not work more than four hours on a school day or in excess of 18 hours in the school week.

The CLL includes specific, separate regulations for child actors and models, for young people involved in volunteer ambulance, fire, and rescue corps, and for any children who do not reside in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the CLL includes limitations on late night hours and on the length of permissible work hours between breaks. Some expansion of permissible work hours during the summer school vacation is permitted by the CLL. The CLL does not apply to children employed on farms or in domestic service in private homes.

Teenagers need certain state documents to work legally-the documents are often called “working papers.’ There are two categories of working papers-children under 16 must have an “employment certificate” and children over 16 must secure a “work permit.” Work permits are more desirable because they are transferable between jobs; employment certificates are issued for specific jobs and are not transferable. Work certificates are issued to the employer and must be retained by the employer throughout the child’s employment. Transferable work permits are retained by the child. As to both permits and certificates, employers are bound by significant additional reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the CLIL.

Employment certificates and work permits are issued by school district superintendents, supervising principals, or school board secretaries. Applications for certificates or permits must be made at the local high school by the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian. The completed application must be signed by a physician or nurse practitioner who certifies that the child is physically fit for employment. The child’s age must be verified by a birth certificate, baptismal certificate, or passport. If none of these documents is available, the child’s age may be verified by an affidavit signed either by a physician or by the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.

If an employer, parent, guardian, or custodian violates the CLL, he or she may be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 10 days. In addition, employers must know that where a child working in violation of the CLL is injured on the job, he or she is entitled to 150% of the workers’ compensation benefits ordinarily allowed. The excess compensation is not payable by the insurance carrier but is instead solely the obligation of the employer. Even where an injured child has a valid certificate of employment, if he or she commenced employment and was injured before the certificate was actually issued, the 150% compensation must be paid.

If your child plans to work this summer, it is wise to start the process of securing the working papers and medical examination soon. If you are an employer who employs minors, it is important that you carefully review the restrictions of the CLL as to the particular child, job, work hours, and conditions of the employment relationship you are seeking to establish. Because the CLL focuses not only on the age of the child but on the work conditions and hours, a quick or cursory analysis is not wise, Never commence any employment relationship regulated by the CLL before you have the necessary work certificate or a copy of the child’s permit.

Every year, most tax provision are indexed for inflation. To assist you with your planning for 2011, we are providing some areas of interest for this year’s adjustments. Please note, if there is something of interest, each IRS publication for the affected area has a “What’s New’ section near the front.


Standard deductions involve the following:

S5,800.00 for a person who is single;

$11,800.00 for someone who is married, filing jointly or a surviving spouse;

$5,800.00 for a married person filing separately; and

$8,500.00 for the head of the household.

In addition people over the age of 65 have other deductions:

$1,450.00 for someone who is single or the head of the household; and

S1,150.00 if the person is married.

Finally, regardless of age, an individual can claim personal exemptions up to $3,700.00,

Bracket Limits

The following figures are for taxable income, once the exemptions and deductions have been made. If your taxable income is above the highest amount shown, based on how you file your tax return, the excess is taxed at 35%.

10% Blacket -Single person (“SP”) with a taxable income of $8,500.00. -Married person who files jointly or is a surviving spouse (“MJ/SS”) with a taxable income of S17,000.00. -Married person who files separately (“M-S”) with a taxable income of $8,500.00. -Head of household (“HH’) with a taxable income of


15% Bracket -SP with a taxable income of S34,500.00. -M-J/SS with a taxable income of $69,000.00. -M-S with a taxable income of S34,500.00. -HH with a taxable income of $46,250.00.

25% Bracket -SP with a taxable income of S83,600.00. -M-J/SS with a taxable income of S139,350.00. -M-S with a taxable income of S69,675.00. -HH with a taxable income of S119,400.00.

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