Summer Job for Minors: State, Federal Laws Outline Requirements

David Leporiere

My company is thinking about hiring a 16-year-old for the summer. The job duties include lifting objects weighing more than 25 pounds, taking orders, operating a cash register, and driving a company vehicle to deliver goods to our customers. Is there anything that prevents us from offering the job to this individual?

Unfortunately, yes — unless you modify the job duties. The federal government and state of California prohibit 16- and 17-year-old employees from performing certain “hazardous” types of work.

One of the types of “hazardous” work prohibited by the government for a 16-year-old is driving a motor vehicle.

If driving the company vehicle can be separated from the other duties of the position, you still may be able to offer the modified post to the 16-year old, thereby providing an opportunity for them to gain on-the-job experience.

State/Federal Requirements

Both state and federal law restrict the type of work that minors can perform for businesses. The younger the potential employee, the greater the restrictions. For minors, 16- and 17-year-old employees have the least amount of restrictions, but the government does require additional protections and places added restrictions on tasks these employees may perform.

Examples of “hazardous” work that state and federal law forbid 16- and 17-year-old employees from doing include using power-driven woodworking machines; power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears; power-driven hoisting apparatuses (including forklifts); and power-driven paper products machines.

Requirements Chart

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has published a chart that summarizes the requirements an employee and employer must meet so the minor may work, the hours that a minor may work, and the types of work restrictions imposed upon minors while working for an employer.

This form summarizes the rules and regulations based upon the age of the minor, and is extremely helpful. The chart also lists exemptions to the requirements. You can find it at

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at