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What is a Juvenile Work Permit?

Like other states, South Carolina restricts the ability of teenagers to work. Child labor was a common sight in the early 20th Century, but South Carolina has ultimately limited the practice. Our state is interested in ensuring juveniles are not working too hard or in dangerous industries, especially when they should be in school.

Unlike some other states, South Carolina does not require juvenile work permits. This means that a teen does not need to get any special permission from the state to begin working. Nonetheless, important laws do restrict the ability of businesses to employ them. In this post, our Aiken lawyer reviews the laws regarding child labor in South Carolina.

If you are a parent whose teen wants to work, or if you are a business looking to employ someone under 18, please contact Surasky Law with any questions. We will happily walk you through your obligations.

Children Under 14

Generally, children under 14 cannot work in South Carolina. However, there are some very limited exceptions:

  1. Children who are 12 or 13 can work in a non-hazardous farm job when school is not in session if they have written permission from their parents.

  2. Children who are 12 or 13 can work at any farm or agricultural establishment where their parents are employed, so long as the occupation is non-hazardous.

  3. A child of any age can work in a business if it is 100% owned or operated by a parent.

  4. A child of any age can work in show business, e.g., a child actor in a play, movie, or TV show.

  5. A child of any age can deliver newspapers.

Children Aged 14 and 15

More employment opportunities are available for children aged 14 and 15, but restrictions still apply. The state seeks to prevent employment from preventing these teens from going to school.

During the school year, teens at this age can only work three hours a day, up to 18 hours a week. That’s the maximum. Further, work must occur between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. For most children, this will mean working a maximum of 3 hours in the afternoon when school gets out.

During summer vacation, teens who are 14 and 15 can work a maximum of 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. Although it’s summer, all work must be between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm. No late night or early morning hours are allowed.

Teens at this age can only work in certain industries or jobs. For example, they cannot work in:

· Warehousing

· Car repair

· Meal preparation

· Hazardous occupations

· Any job requiring the use of ladders or scaffolding

Teens at 14 or 15 can serve food or wash cars, for example. Consult an employment lawyer if you have questions about whether a job is appropriate for a young teen.

Teens Aged 16 and 17

Very few laws limit these teens. Someone 16 or 17 has no restrictions on their schedule. They can work as many hours as they want when they want. However, South Carolina’s compulsory education requires children to attend school until age 17. There are exceptions if a court authorizes you to find a job or if your job is necessary to support your family.

Although teens at this age face few restrictions, federal law does prevent them from working hazardous jobs as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor:

  1. Logging

  2. Coal mining

  3. Other mining

  4. Excavation

  5. Roofing

  6. Meat packing

  7. Manufacturing or storing explosives

  8. Driving a motor vehicle as part of a job

  9. Jobs with exposure to radiation

  10. Job using a power-driven hoisting apparatus

  11. Any job with power-driven metal punching or forming machines

  12. Jobs with power-driven woodworking machines

  13. Jobs involving the operation of baking machines

  14. Jobs that use power-driven machines for paper products

  15. Manufacturing of brick or tile

  16. Wrecking and demolition

  17. Power-driving circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears

If you have questions, please contact our firm. Recently, the New York Times published an explosive story about employers using migrant teens in hazardous jobs. This story received widespread attention, and many national brands are facing scrutiny for working with contractors who employ teens in bakeries or metal stamping operations and as roofers. We strongly encourage employers to seek legal advice before hiring someone who is under 18.

Teenagers 18 or Older

Once a person turns 18, they can work in any job, including hazardous occupations. However, some jobs require special permits or licenses, and there might be age restrictions. For example, truckers must be at least 21 before they can drive trucks in interstate commerce unless they are part of an approved apprenticeship program.

There are no hour restrictions on those 18 and older. We should point out that they are protected by minimum wage and overtime laws.

Penalties for Violating Child Labor Laws

Employers who illegally use child labor can face civil penalties: a maximum of $11,000 per worker, as well as an additional $50,000 penalty for each serious injury or death of a minor (or $100,000 for repeat offenses).

The feds can also seek criminal penalties for willful (intentional) violations: $10,000 per conviction for a first offense and even six months imprisonment for a second willful violation. A judge might also issue an injunction against your company to stop employing minors. Violating this injunction and jail is a real possibility.

Remember, labor laws also apply to migrant children, even those in the country without permission.

Parents who send their children to work could also face problems, including scrutiny from the state. A caseworker could show up at your door, and the Department of Social Services could claim you are endangering your children. This argument would have a real bite if your teen was injured while working a dangerous occupation, like roofing.

Call Our Aiken, SC Lawyer

Surasky Law Firm has deep experience in employment and family law. We are eager to help in any way we can. Call us to schedule a consultation.


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