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Did You Know?
High School Grads earn more money in their lifetime than High School dropouts.

College Grads earn more than High School Grads.

If you want to graduate from college, put in the effort to get good grades in high school.

The U.S. Department of Labor, (DOL) is the sole federal agency that monitors youth labor and enforces youth labor laws. The DOL web site contains a comprehensive section that you should visit on Youth & Labor.

State Labor Laws
Every state has laws specifically dealing with youth labor issues. You should become familiar with the laws and rules for your state. For example, the federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for a minor to be employed but many states do require them for workers of certain ages.

Your Rights
When you work, you are on your way to earning money and learning valuable lessons that will last your lifetime. Your employer will expect a lot from you, namely, that you be on time and do your best. Equally, your employer should treat you fairly, pay you fairly and provide a safe workplace.

Remember, even though you are a teenager, as a worker, you have rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and other laws, if your employer is covered by them.

The Teen Worker's Bill of Rights

RIGHT ONE: It Pays To Work… And Work Must Pay I have the right to a fair and full day's pay for a fair and full day's work…to have my hours of work properly recorded and to be paid at least the federal minimum wage.

RIGHT TWO: Overtime Work = Overtime Pay
I have the right to overtime pay (at least time and one half my regular rate of pay) for every hour I work beyond 40 hours a week. (However, this right arises under the FLSA, which contains significant exemptions for some jobs that teen workers may perform.)

RIGHT THREE: Safety Is Part Of The Job
I have the right to a safe workplace and the right to file a complaint if the job is unsafe. I have the right to required safety clothing, equipment and training.

Note: If I am under 18, I'm prohibited from certain tasks: manufacturing/storing explosives; driving a motor vehicle or being an outside helper on one, except under limited circumstances; coal mining; logging/saw milling; using power driven woodworking, hoisting, slicing or baking machines; being exposed to radioactive substances/ionizing radiations; mining; meat packing; manufacturing brick, tile and related products; wrecking; demolition; and ship-breaking operations. Limited exceptions apply for some apprentices and student learners.

Additional restrictions apply to workers 15 and younger.
If I'm under 16, my employer is not permitted to have me work past 9 PM between June 1 and Labor Day.

RIGHT FOUR: No Harassment Hassles
I have the right to equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability in an environment free of sexual and physical harassment.
Some states have worker protections which exceed federal standards. Call your state labor department for more information.

Work can provide an opportunity to make friends, earn a paycheck and gain experience. Work should add to your life experience--not take away from it. Remember, you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to provide the basic framework for a rewarding experience.

To have a more rewarding work experience, you might want to consider:

  • asking your employer for a clear explanation of when you'll be paid, how much, and how often;
  • asking your employer to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your studies;
  • asking your employer questions about safety; and
  • treating your coworkers with respect; they should treat you the same way.

Note: This information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. It should not be relied upon to determine what steps employees can or should take to identify and protect their legal rights.