Across the United States, it is legal for a minor to get a job. In fact, many Americans get their first jobs before they turn 18. Because a minor does not have the same legal rights as an adult, most states do not allow minors to work unless they have valid work permits. A work permit states that the minor’s parent authorizes her to to be employed and understands the laws that apply to the minor’s employment.
Georgia law follows federal law closely regarding the employment of minors. Following federal law, minors must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and they may not be subjected to harassment or other forms of discrimination in the workplace.
Georgia Labor Laws for Minors
In Georgia, an individual as young as age 12 may become gainfully employed. This is in contrast to federal law, which states that an individual must be at least 14 years old to be employed. The reason why minors as young as 12 can be employed in Georgia, as well as in a few other states, is that they can only be employed in roles that are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. These roles include newspaper delivery, babysitting and entertainment.
In Georgia, there are no limits to the number of hours minors ages 16 and 17 may work or when they can work. There is no requirement that teens of any age be given rest or meal breaks during their shifts.
Regarding teens ages 14 and 15, Georgia labor laws for minors are more lax than federal labor laws for minors. Employers who are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must comply with federal labor laws; whereas, employers who are not subject to this law must comply with Georgia labor laws for minors. In Georgia, 14- and 15-year-olds are restricted from working:
- More than four hours on school days.
- Before 6 a.m.
- After 9 p.m.
- More than eight hours on non-school days.
- More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
Obtaining a Georgia Work Permit
As of July 1, 2015, Georgia work permits are only required for employees under age 16. The work permit must be signed by the minor’s parent or legal guardian and the minor’s date of birth. The employer must also sign the work permit, which is then authorized by a qualified issuing officer like the minor’s school guidance counselor.
A minor can obtain a Georgia work permit online. To do this, the minor can visit the Georgia Department of Labor’s website and follow the instructions listed there for obtaining a work permit online. Work permits can also be obtained through schools.
Prohibited Jobs for Minors in Georgia
Even with a Georgia work permit, minors are barred from holding certain jobs. Minors under age 16 may not work jobs that involve the following in Georgia:
- Loading and unloading commercial vehicles.
- Manufacturing and processing.
- Operating heavy machinery.
Teens ages 16 and 17 are held to the same job restrictions as stated by federal law. Teens these ages cannot serve alcoholic beverages, handle explosives, work in logging or milling, or work with radioactive substances.
Exceptions to Georgia Labor Laws for Minors
Georgia, like many states, has exemptions in place to its laws governing child labor. And like many other states, a primary exemption to these laws is family employers. When a minor works in a family-owned business, there are no legal limits on the number of hours she may work. Similarly, there are no restrictions regarding agricultural work for minors.
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