Legal Guide

What You Need To Know About Hiring Minors in Oklahoma

A summer or part-time job can be a great way for a teenager to learn responsibility and earn money. But if your business hires or intends to hire minors, there are important legal considerations to evaluate.

Oklahoma’s Child Labor Laws

Oklahoma's child labor laws aim to protect the safety, health, and education of minors under 18 who work in the state. These laws specify the minimum age requirements for certain types of employment, limit the hours and type of work minors can perform and require employers to obtain work permits for minors under 16.

The minimum age for employment in Oklahoma is generally 14 years old. However, minors under 16 must obtain a work permit from the Oklahoma Department of Labor before they work. Work permits are issued based on the age, education level, and the type of work the minor will perform.

In terms of prohibited work, Oklahoma's child labor laws prohibit minors from working in hazardous occupations, such as operating heavy machinery or working with explosives. Minors are also prohibited from working in certain industries, such as mining, manufacturing, and construction. Overall, Oklahoma's child labor laws aim to protect minors from the risks associated with employment while still allowing them to gain valuable work experience.

Oklahoma Employment and Age Certificates

All minors under 16 must obtain an employment certificate before starting work. This certificate is also called a work permit. Employment certificates verify that the minor is old enough to work, is attending school, and is qualified to perform the job.

To obtain an employment certificate, the minor must complete an application form, which is available from their school or the Oklahoma Department of Labor. The minor's parent and the minor's employer must sign the application. The application also requires information such as the type of work, the work hours, and the employer's contact information.

In addition to the application form, the minor must provide proof of age, such as a birth certificate or driver's license, and proof of school enrollment, such as a report card or enrollment form. The minor may also need to provide a physical examination form if the job involves certain types of work, such as food handling or hazardous materials.

Once the application is complete, the applicant must submit it for approval. The Department of Labor will review the application and issue the employment certificate if the applicant meets all requirements.

Employers must keep the employment certificate on file and make it available for inspection by the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Failure to obtain an employment certificate for a minor employee can result in penalties and fines for the employer.

Hours and Jobs Permitted for 14- and 15-Year-Old Youth

Oklahoma has specific laws regulating the types of work minors can do based on their age, physical and mental abilities, and the potential hazards associated with the job. The state has several restrictions and prohibitions on the type of work minors can perform to protect their safety, health, and education.

Minors aged 14 and 15 years are permitted to perform certain types of work, such as office work, retail sales, and restaurant work. They are also allowed to work as golf caddies, newspaper carriers, and performers in certain types of entertainment, such as theater and film.

Oklahoma law also restricts the number of hours minors can work based on age and whether or not their school is in session. When school is in session, minors aged 14 and 15 are limited to working three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, and up to 18 hours a week. During school holidays and vacations, they can work up to eight hours per day and up to 40 hours per week. 

Minors also may not work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. during the school year, and before 6:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. during the summer months.

Hours and Jobs Permitted for 16- and 17-Year-Old Youth

16 or 17 year olds do not require a work permit, but are still subject to certain restrictions. They can perform a wider range of work, including in factories, manufacturing, and transportation. However, they may not work in industries such as driving a motor vehicle for commercial purposes, working with explosives or radioactive materials, and performing jobs that require using power-driven machinery.

Minors may work up to eight hours on a school day and up to 48 hours a week, provided work does not negatively affect their school attendance or academic progress. On a school night, they may not work before 6:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. 

Oklahoma’s Child Labor Law Exemptions

Oklahoma child labor laws provide certain exemptions for minors working in specific industries. These exemptions allow minors to work under different rules and regulations than those that typically apply.

One of the main exemptions is for minors employed in agricultural work. Minors working on farms or in other agricultural jobs are subject to different rules and regulations than those who work in non-agricultural jobs. For example, minors under 16 who work in agriculture do not need a work permit or employment certificate, and they can work longer hours during school weeks than minors who work in other types of jobs.

Another exemption under Oklahoma child labor laws is for minors who work as actors or performers in the entertainment industry. These minors are subject to different rules and regulations than those who work in other types of jobs, such as different hours of work and types of work they can perform.

Additionally, Oklahoma law allows 16 or 17 year olds to work more hours than those who are under 16 years old. These older minors can also work during different hours of the day and perform different types of work than their younger counterparts.

Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Business Attorney

Overall, Oklahoma’s child labor laws protect minors from the risks associated with certain types of work and ensure that they receive an education while gaining work experience. Employers who violate these laws can face penalties and fines. 

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