Child labor laws in the United States address issues related to the employment and welfare of minors and children in the workforce. It is the employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations. The most sweeping federal law that restricts the employment and abuse of child workers is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Child labor provisions under FLSA are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. FLSA restricts the hours that youth less than 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform.
The main law regulating child labor in the United States is the Fair Labor Standards Act. For non-agricultural jobs, children fewer than 14 may not be employed, children between 14 and 16 may be employed in allowed occupations during limited hours, and children between 16 and 18 may be employed for unlimited hours in non-hazardous occupations. A number of exceptions to these rules exist, such as for employment by parents, newspaper delivery, and child actors. The regulations for agricultural employment are generally less strict, allowing children to work an unlimited number of hours on a farm and allowing them to do so during school hours if a parent or guardian works that same farm.
States have varying laws covering youth employment. Each state has minimum requirements such as, earliest age a child may begin working, number of hours a child is allowed to be working during the day, number of hours a child is allowed to be worked during the week. The United States Department of Labor lists the minimum requirements for agricultural work in each state. Where state law differs from federal law on child labor, the law with the more rigorous standard applies.