Child Labor

Questions about Child Labor Laws? Need to report a suspected violation?
Contact Natalie Rich at 501-682-4599.

Questions about Work Permits for minors?
Call 501-682-4500

The Labor Standards Division enforces Arkansas’s child labor laws. Child labor laws regulate the employment of minors. In most cases, a child must be at least fourteen to be employed in the workforce. In order to employ a child under 16, the employer must obtain a work permit from the Arkansas Department of Labor. There are limitations on the hours of work as well as the types of work a fourteen or fifteen year old can perform. Types of work a child under sixteen cannot perform include the following occupations. There are many other prohibited occupations. For a complete listing, see the Arkansas Child Labor Laws and Administrative Regulations:

  • Work performed in, about, or in connection with any processes in which dangerous or poisonous acids or gases or other chemicals are used.
  • Soldering
  • In occupations causing dust in injurious quantities
  • In scaffolding
  • In heavy work in the building trades
  • In any tunnel or excavation
  • In any mine, coal breaker, coke oven, or quarry
  • In any pool or billiard room
  • Adjusting any belt to any machinery
  • Sewing or lacing machine belts in any workshop or factory
  • Oiling, wiping, or cleaning machinery or assisting therein;
  • Operating or assisting in operating any of the following machines
          • Circular or band saws
          • Wood shapers
          • Wood jointers
          • Planers
          • Sandpaper or woodpolishing machinery
          • Wood turning or boring machinery
          • Picker machines or machines used in picking wool
          • Carding machines
          • Job cylinder printing presses operated by power other than foot power
          • Boring or drill presses
          • Stamping machines used in metal or in paper or leather manufacturing
          • Metal or paper cutting machines
          • Corner staying machines in paper box factories
          • Steam boilers
          • Dough brakes or cracker machinery of any description
          • Wire or iron straightening or drawing machinery
          • Rolling mill machinery
          • Washing, grinding or mixing machinery
          • Laundering machiner
  • In proximity to any hazardous or unguarded belt, machinery or gearing
  • Upon any railroad, whether steam, electric, or hydraulic
  • In any saloon, resort, or bar where intoxicating liquor of any kind is sold or dispensed.
  • In manufacturing, mining or processing occupations, including occupations requiring the performance of duties in work rooms or work places where goods are manufactured, mined, or otherwise processed.
  • Occupations which involve the operation or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery other than office machines.
  • The operation of motor vehicles or service as helpers on such vehicles.
  • Public messenger service
  • Occupations in connection with:
      • Transportation of persons or property by rail, highway, air, water, pipeline, or other means.
      • Warehousing and storage.
      • Communications and public utilities.
      • Construction (including demolition and repair); except such office (including ticket office) work, or sales work in connection with A.), B.), C.) and D.), as does not involve the performance of any duties on trains, motor vehicles, aircraft, vessels, or other media of transportation or at the actual site of construction operations.
      • Occupations in or about plants or establishments manufacturing or storing explosives or articles containing explosive components, except where such work is performed in a nonexplosives area.
      • Occupations in logging and in the operation of any sawmill, lath mill, shingle mill, or cooperage stock mill
      • Occupations in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments or rendering plants.
      • Occupations in proximity to pin-setting machinery or gearing in bowling alleys.
      • Cooking and baking
      • Setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers
      • Numerous agricultural occupations

Sixteen and seventeen year old children do not need a work permit. However, there are federal laws that limit the types of work they can perform. For information on these limitations, please visit the Youth Rules website or call the U.S. Department of Labor at 501-223-9114.

State law limits the hours that may be worked by minors under the age of eighteen.

Limitations on hours of work for a child under sixteen:

A child under sixteen cannot be employed:

  • More than six days in any week
  • More than forty-eight hours in any week
  • More than eight hours in any day
  • Before 6:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m., except that on nights preceding nonschool days, they may work until 9:00 p.m.

Limitations on hours of work for a sixteen or seventeen year old child:

(a) No child under the age of eighteen (18) shall be employed, permitted or suffered to work:

  • more than six (6) days in any week;
  • more than fifty-four (54) hours in any week;
  • more than ten (10) consecutive hours in any day;
  • more than ten (10) hours in a twenty-four hour period; or
  • before 6:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m., except that children ages sixteen (16) and seventeen (17) years may be employed until 12:00 midnight on nights preceding nonschool days.

(b) Children ages sixteen (16) years and seventeen (17) years of age may be employed between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. on nights preceding nonschool days, except in the occupations or circumstances listed below and provided the work is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law:

  • in any convenience or retail store of less than 4500 square feet;
  • in any restaurant, except that a sixteen (16) or seventeen year old may work in a locked restaurant or fast-food restaurant if only the drive-through window is open to the general public;
  • in any business where a child would be working without direct supervision by an adult 21 years of age or older;
  • in any business which serves alcohol;
  • in any business which provides adult entertainment, including nude or topless entertainment;
  • at any truck stop or service station;
  • at any race track or gambling establishment;
  • as a security guard;
  • as a delivery person; or
  • in violation of any local curfew ordinance.
(c) For the purpose of determining compliance and assessing penalties, the department shall enforce the prohibition against more than ten (10) hours of work in a 24-hour in the following manner:
  • If a child sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years old has a rest break between shifts or periods of work of at least ten (10) hours, the department will determine compliance by the hours worked between midnight of one calendar day and midnight of the following calendar day.
  • If a child sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years old does not have a rest break between shifts or periods of work of at least ten (10) hours, the department will determine compliance by the hours worked in any 24-hour period.
In some cases, minors can be paid less than the minimum wage. Click here for more information. In order to pay a minor less than minimum wage, an employer must have a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Department of Labor.

State and federal law both govern the hours worked and the type of work for children under the age of eighteen (18).  The administrative agency for the enforcement of federal child labor laws is the U.S. Department of Labor.  The website for federal child labor law information is:  http://www.youthrules.gov/.  You may also contact the USDOL Little Rock field
office at 501-223-9114.  An employer must comply with the most stringent or restrictive standard applicable.