Child Labor Laws in Oklahoma

By Shaun Perkins
Government laws on child labor are important to know.

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Minor employees aged 14 to 17 are protected by child labor statutes in Oklahoma. While most of the statutes do not apply to children 16 and 17, these minors are not allowed to work in hazardous occupations. Children who are 14 and 15 have many limitations regarding their working conditions. Knowing these laws helps the parent, child and employer understand and not infringe on the child’s legal rights.

Basic Restrictions for 14 and 15 Year Old Workers

Employers of 14 and 15 year olds must have a work permit on file, signed by the minor employee's school principal, upon hire. These children are limited to working three hours on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day. They are only allowed to work 18 hours in a week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. In the summer, the student can work up to eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Break periods, while working, are mandatory, and the student must be given one hour for every eight hours worked. According to the Oklahoma Department of Labor, 14 and 15 year olds cannot work in “manufacturing, warehousing, public utilities, communications and construction” and other occupations that may be hazardous.

Other Restrictions for 14 and 15 Year Old Workers

Children under the age of 16 have a number of employment stipulations. Section 74 of the Oklahoma Child Labor Law states that a child must be able to read and write and be attending school while employed. Also, the employer must adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or the student will not be allowed to work at the business. The FLSA requires that employers pay minimum wage, overtime and keep records regarding hours worked. Section 78 notes that if a labor commissioner believes that a child is physically unfit to perform his job, the commissioner can require a certificate of physical fitness from the employer before the child can remain in the position.

Guidelines for 16 and 17 Year Old Workers

The only child labor law in Oklahoma that protects this age category is the one regarding hazardous occupations. The list of occupations that are declared hazardous by the Bureau of Labor is extensive. It includes baking, demolition, machinery, motor vehicles, communications, excavation, manufacturing, processing, construction, hoisting devices, mining and transportation. The parent is responsible for overseeing the child’s working hours and conditions. Some schools may counsel a student and his parents if they notice a work-related problem occurring in the student’s academic life.

About the Author

Shaun Perkins has written for publications since 1980. Her work has appeared in journals and newspapers such as "Slipstream," "The Phoenix," "Storytelling," "The Current" and "Beatin' Edge." She teaches at the high school and college levels and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma State University and a Master in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma.