Can my child work until midnight?

Child Labor Law Lawyer Rhode Island MassachusettsPrompted by a recent question by a Citadel client, here is a summary of the law covering 16 and 17 year old workers in Rhode Island.

Over 18: Anything Goes

People 18 and older are deemed adults. There are no restrictions on the hours they can work or the types of jobs they can do.

Under 18: No “Hazardous” Jobs

If you are under 18, you cannot be employed in any hazardous job. Complex state and federal regulations define “hazardous” but most retail and fast food jobs are not considered hazardous.

Under 18: State Law Is Stricter Than Federal Law

Federal law does not limit the hours 16 & 17 year olds can work.  RI State law does if they are in school.

Under 18: Limited Hours

If you are 16 or 17, and in school, under RI law you may NOT be employed:

  • More than 48 hours per week. (But unlimited during school vacations.)
  • More than nine hours a day. (9 3/5 hours if a 5-day work week.)
  • Before 6 AM or after 11:30 PM. (1:30 AM if no school the next day.)
  • Without 8-hours off between the end of a shift on one day and the start of work the next day.

If you are 16 or 17, and you have dropped out of school:

  • There are no limits on when you can work and no limits on how many hours you can work.

Under 16: You Can Work If You Get A Permit

Under certain circumstances, 14 and 15 year olds can work in Rhode Island if they get a permit from the State. They cannot work as much as 16 and 17 year olds.

Under 14: You Cannot Work

If you are under 14, you generally cannot work in Rhode Island.


The RI agency that investigates complaints is the Wage and Hour Division of the RI Department of Labor and Training.  Their number is: (401) 462-8550

Child labor violations can lead to criminal charges.  The person complaining about a child labor law violation does not have to be the child, or the parent of the child, involved. (Think about it – child labor is a crime and the government investigates crimes no matter who complains about it.  If you call the police to report someone being mugged, do the police say ‘well, you are not being mugged so we won’t respond.’)

More Information

To learn more about child labor law restrictions check the RI Department of Labor and Training‘s web site or the federal Department of Labor‘s site.

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