In Texas, people younger than 18 years old are considered minors. The Texas Child Labor Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act have restrictions on what hours minors can work, and how many hours they can work during a week.
Texas has rules for different ages of children. Children under 14 are not allowed to work, with a few exceptions. Minors who are 14 and 15-year-olds may work up to 18 hours a week during the school year depending on what type of job they have. When school is out, they may work up to 40 hours a week but may not work overtime.
Minors who are 16 or older do not have these restrictions. However, these teenagers may need to follow local laws regarding school attendance, truancy, or curfews that they and their employers should be aware of.
Minor Working Restrictions
State and federal law place different types of restrictions on minor employees. These restrictions cover what sort of work minors may do, how many hours they can work in a given day or week, and what times during the day they may and may not work.
Additionally, minors aren’t allowed to sign contracts, so an employer may need to get permission from a parent or legal guardian to do a background or drug test on minor employees.
14 and 15-year-old workers
14 and 15-year-old employees may not work at jobs that involve hazardous duties. These include some obvious prohibitions, like mining, as well as ones that aren’t as obvious, like cooking over an open flame. Instead, they may work at supermarkets as cashiers and baggers, and at restaurants to chop food, serving dishes, and bus tables.
These workers also have limitations on how many hours they can work. If their employer involves interstate commerce, federal law prohibits this age group from working more than 3 hours on a school day or more than 18 hours during a week. 14 and 15-year-old workers may only work between 7 am and 7 pm during the school year, but between June 1 and Labor Day they may work until 9 pm.
In jobs where federal law doesn’t apply, Texas law has some different restrictions on working hours. 14 and 15-year-old employees may work up to 8 hours a day and up to 48 hours a week. On school days, they can only work between 5 am and 10 pm, and when school is out they can work as late as midnight.
16 and 17-year-old workers
16 and 17-year-old workers have fewer restrictions on their work. There are no limitations on what hours they can work during either the school year or summer break.
These workers have some restrictions on what types of work they may do. For example, they can’t work in logging or as garbage collectors. However, they are permitted to engage in some hazardous activities, such as roofing or operating power-driven saws if this work is part of an apprenticeship program.
Exceptions to the Texas Child Labor Law
There are exceptions to the restrictions on employers hiring minors.
Working at a family business
Minors of any age are allowed to work at most family businesses. These can include family restaurants or shops, as long as the children work under a family member’s direct supervision.
Casual, unscheduled, and nonrecurring work
Minors, including children younger than 14, are allowed to earn money doing odd jobs. This includes babysitting, dog walking for a neighbor who’s going out of town, raking leaves around the neighborhood, and shoveling snow.
Children as young as 11 can deliver newspapers along a newspaper route, but they aren’t allowed to be involved in direct newspaper sales. Starting at 16, minors may sell newspapers directly to the public.
Minors of any age are allowed to work in agriculture at times they aren’t required to be in school. This includes raising animals, tilling soil, planting and caring for crops, and harvesting fruits or vegetables.
Wage Rules for Minor Employees
Generally, minor employees need to be paid the same rate as other employees. The same rules apply to all workers, regardless of age, for tipped workers and laws about employment tax. If you need help understanding your tax obligations, you can contact an IRS agent for guidance.
To understand your payroll tax obligations, and to ensure you’re following all local state, and federal rules, you can contact us to learn more about our small business services.
Here are some answers to common questions about working hours for teenage employees in Texas.
16-year-olds don’t have any restrictions on how many hours they may work in a given week in Texas.
Yes, a 16-year-old may work past 10 pm as long as they are complying with local curfew laws.
No, you don’t need a work permit as a 16-year-old worker in Texas. However, parents or legal guardians may need to allow their 16-year-old to work.
Yes. 16-year-olds can usually work the night shift. But, 16- and 17-year-old workers should be aware of local curfew laws, which sometimes include exceptions for employment.