When May A High School Student Work In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania generally divides its child labor law into two parts – laws affecting children aged 14 & 15 and laws affecting children aged 16 & 17. These laws regulate how many hours a child may work while in school and on vacation. Also, even high school graduates in Pennsylvania are generally required to obtain work permits before seeking employment.

For all minors between the ages of 14 through 17, a regular school week is defined as the five days beginning with Monday through Friday when school is in session. School vacation is defined as the period of time a minor is not required to be in school as established by the school district in which the minor resides.

Minors age 14 & 15

Minors 14 and 15 years of age may not be employed before 7 am or after 7 pm during a regular school week. The exception is that during a school vacation period a minor may be employed until 9 pm. Additionally, a minor may not be employed for more than three hours on a school day or more than eight hours on a day when there is no school. The minor may not be employed for more than 18 hours during a regular school week and not more than 40 hours during a week that school is not in session.

Minors age 16 & 17

Minors 16 years of age or older may not be employed before 6 am or after 12 midnight during a regular school week. The minor may not be employed for more than 8 hours in a single day or more than 28 hours per week during a regular school week.

During a school vacation period, minors 16 years of age or older may be permitted to work until 1 am but may not be employed for more than 10 hours a day. The minor may not work more than 48 hours in a single week and any hours worked more than 44 in a single week must be voluntarily agreed to by the minor. The minor may reject any request for employment in excess of 44 hours in a single week without retaliation by the employer. 

High School Graduates

A high school graduate or an individual who has attained the age of sixteen (16) and who has withdrawn from school to work full-time does not have to comply with the restrictions on hours of employment. High school graduates who possess a work permit are exempt from the work hour limitation for minors 16 years of age and older. They also do not need to have a signature from their parent or legal guardian on the application for a work permit as long as they provide official proof of such graduation.

A minor, who is a high school graduate, must obtain a work permit from the school district where the employer is located or at the college or trade school they are attending. This requirement covers all minors including those attending colleges, universities, trade schools, or any other individual seeking employment who does not have a current work permit issued in Pennsylvania.

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