South Carolina's Teen Labor Law

By Grace Ferguson

Employers hiring minors -- those under 18 -- in South Carolina must adhere to the state's child labor laws, which are similar to the regulations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Minors Under 14

Employers in South Carolina cannot hire anyone under 14, unless an exception applies. Exemptions include:

  • Under 14 working in the entertainment or performance arts business, such as acting or film production

  • Age 13 and 14 working nonhazardous farm jobs while school is out, with the parent's written consent

  • Of any age working for a business that is fully owned and run by the parent
  • Of any age delivering newspapers

Tip

South Carolina law deems hiring a minor under 14 without qualifying for an exemption as oppressive labor.

Ages 14 and 15

Provided certain restrictions are met, minors age 14 and 15 can perform sales and clerical work. Jobs in retail, hospitality and petroleum service establishments may be acceptable, including:

  • Packaging orders and carrying them out for customers

  • Delivering food and beverages

  • Washing and polishing vehicles
  • Accepting payments from customers
  • Running errands and making deliveries via foot, public transportation or bicycle

Jobs that may not be acceptable:

  • Fixing automobiles

  • Storage or warehousing, such as at a cold storage or distribution facility 

  • Food preparation
  • Lawnmower and golf cart operations
  • Use of hazardous equipment and tools, such as ladders and grinders

Approved hours of work:

  • During school days, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., up to three hours daily and 18 hours weekly
  • When school is out, such as during summer break, up to eight hours daily and 40 hours weekly

Teens 16 and 17

South Carolina does not impose limitations on scheduling or hours for minors age 16 and 17. An employer may schedule them to work as many hours as is needed daily or weekly to get the job done. They cannot, however, work in the following occupations, which are regarded as hazardous by federal law:

  • Roofing

  • Mining

  • Sawmilling
  • Meat processing or packaging 
  • Electrical machine operation
  • Excavation
  • Tile and brick production
  • Motor vehicle operation
  • Exposure to dangerous substances, such as radioactive materials

Tip

Teens 18 and older can perform any job at any time.

Payment of Wages

Minors in South Carolina can be paid according to the federal youth minimum wage. As of May 2015, employers may pay workers younger than 20 $4.25 an hour during the first 90 calendar days of employment. Wages are due by the established regular payday.

Employer Responsibility

The FLSA and South Carolina law do not require minors to have work permits to get a job. Under South Carolina law, however, employers must obtain proof of the minor's age, such a driver's license or birth certificate, before hiring her. Employers must post a copy of the state's child labor poster -- which includes wage payment and health and safety regulations--in an area accessible to employees.

Tip

An employer that violates the state's child labor laws for the first time is given a written warning and can be fined up to $1,000 by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Two or more offenses may result in a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. Anyone who misrepresents the age of a child, including parents and guardians, can face fines or imprisonment.

Federal Versus State Law

In cases where federal and South Carolina child labor laws differ, the law providing the most protection must be used. If the minor is not covered by federal law, state regulations may apply. For example, the FLSA does not cover self-employed youths age 14 or 15 who provide lawn mowing or yard work services to their neighbors. South Carolina, however, forbids all minors age 14 or 15 from engaging in work activities that involve the use of a lawn mower.

About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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