What are the Ohio guidelines regarding minors' work and employment?

Understanding Ohio's Child Labor Laws

Ohio's child labor laws are designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of minors in the workforce while ensuring their education is not compromised. These laws set forth strict guidelines regarding the types and hours of work that minors are permitted to perform.

Age Restrictions and Work Permits

In Ohio, the legal working age is 14. However, there are certain restrictions for minors under the age of 16. For example, they must obtain a work permit before starting a job. This permit is also known as an 'Age and Schooling Certificate,' and it ensures that the minor's employment complies with state law and does not interfere with their education.

Hour Limitations for Minors

Minors aged 14 and 15 have limitations on the number of hours they can work. During the school year, they can work up to 3 hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, 8 hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours during a non-school week. In contrast, during summer vacation or other extended school breaks, these minors can work up to 8 hours per day and up to 40 hours per week.

Prohibited Occupations

The state of Ohio prohibits minors from working in certain hazardous occupations. For instance, minors are generally not allowed to operate heavy machinery, work with dangerous substances, or be employed in manufacturing. The Division of Industrial Compliance oversees these regulations to ensure young workers are not placed in harmful situations.

Breaks and Meal Periods

Minors working more than five consecutive hours must be given a rest period of at least 30 minutes. This break should be close to the usual meal period or another time if it is more convenient for the minor's schedule.

Historical Context

The implementation of child labor laws has a long history in the United States. In Ohio, reforms began taking shape in the early 20th century as part of the broader Progressive Movement aimed at protecting children from exploitation in industrial jobs.

Enforcement and Compliance

Employers must adhere strictly to Ohio's child labor laws or face penalties. The Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration within the Ohio Department of Commerce is responsible for enforcing these laws. Employers are required to maintain accurate records of minors' work schedules and conditions to demonstrate compliance.


Ohio's guidelines on minors' work and employment are comprehensive and designed to balance the benefits of work experience with the imperative of protecting young workers' well-being. Employers must familiarize themselves with these regulations to ensure a lawful and beneficial work environment for minors.