M.G.L. Chapter 149, Sections 56 –105

The Attorney General’s Office enforces youth employment (child labor) laws that protect workers under 18. These young workers are more likely to be injured than adults, and they need to balance work and school.

The Fair Labor Division investigates reports of violations of youth employment laws as well as work conditions that are dangerous for young workers.

The state and federal laws that protect young workers focus on:

  • How many hours and how early/late they may work depending on their age and the time of the school year, and
  • What kinds of jobs they may do.

In Massachusetts, children under 14 may not work, with certain very limited exceptions.

State law also requires all workers under 18 to have a Youth Employment Permit (work permit) for every job.

This page contains information about both state and federal child labor laws.  The stricter standard applies.  For information about federal child labor laws, call the U.S. Department of Labor at (617)624-6700 or visit http://youth.dol.gov/.

Hours Restrictions

No one under 18 may work past 8 p.m. without direct, on-site adult supervision (except when working at kiosks in the common areas of some malls).

16 & 17 Year Olds May Not Work:

  • At night, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (or past 10:15 if the employer stops serving customers at 10 p.m.)
    Exception: On non-school nights, may work until 11:30 p.m. or until midnight, if working at a restaurant or racetrack.
  • More than 9 hours per day
  • More than 48 hours per week
  • More than 6 days per week

14 & 15 Year Olds May Not Work:

  • At night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Exception: In summer (July 1 – Labor Day), may work until 9 p.m.
  • During the School Year:* 
    • During school hours
    • More than 3 hours on any school day
    • More than 18 hours during any week
    • More than 8 hours on any weekend or holiday
  • When school is not in session:
    • More than 40 hours per week
    • More than 8 hours on any day
    • More than 6 days per week

*Exception: For school-approved career or experience-building jobs, students may be allowed to work during the school day, up to 23 hours a week.

Hazardous Jobs

Workers under 18 years old may not:

  • Drive a vehicle or forklift (except golf carts in certain circumstances)
  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven meat slicers, grinders or choppers
  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven bakery machines
  • Work 30 feet or more above ground or water
  • Handle, serve, or sell alcoholic beverages
  • Use circular or band saws, or guillotine shears
  • Use power-driven woodworking machines
  • Use hoisting machines
  • Operate paper balers, paper box compactors, or other power-driven paper products machines
  • Use power-driven metal-forming, punching, or shearing machines
  • Use buffing or polishing equipment
  • Manufacture brick, tile, or kindred products
  • Manufacture or store explosives
  • Work in excavation, wrecking, demolition, or shipbreaking
  • Work in logging, sawmilling, or mining
  • Work slaughtering, packing, or processing meat
  • Work in railway operations
  • Work in roofing or on or about a roof
  • Work in foundries or around blast furnaces
  • Work manufacturing phosphorus or phosphorus matches
  • Work where they are exposed to radioactive substances
  • Work as a firefighter or engineer on a boat
  • Oil or clean hazardous machinery in motion
  • Work in any job requiring the possession or use of a firearm

Workers under 16 also may not:

  • Operate power-driven machinery (except office machines or machines in retail or food service not otherwise prohibited)
  • Cook (except on electric or gas grills that do not have open flames)
  • Operate fryolators, rotisseries, NIECO broilers, or pressure cookers
  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven food slicers, grinders or choppers
  • Perform any baking activities
  • Operate microwave ovens (except to heat food in microwave ovens with a maximum capacity of 140 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Clean kitchen surfaces that are hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Filter, transport, or dispose of cooking oil or grease hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Work in freezers or meat coolers
  • Work in a manufacturing facility (e.g., a factory)
  • Work on ladders or scaffolds
  • Work in garages, except dispensing gas and oil
  • Work in brick or lumber yards
  • Work in amusement places (e.g., pool or billiard room, or bowling alley)
  • Work in barber shops
  • Work in construction, transportation, communications, or public utilities (except doing clerical work away from heavy machinery off the job-site)
  • Work in warehouses (except doing clerical work)
  • Load or unload trucks, railroad cars, or conveyors
  • Wash windows in public or commercial buildings if the window sill is more than 10 feet above the ground
  • Work doing laundry in a commercial laundry or dry cleaning establishment
  • Work as a public messenger
  • Work at processing operations (e.g., in meat, fish, or poultry processing or cracking nuts, bulk or mass mailing)
  • Work around boilers or in engine rooms
  • Do industrial homework
  • Work with dangerous electrical machinery or appliances
  • Work that is determined by the Massachusetts Attorney General to be dangerous to the health and well-being of minors
  • Work in any of the occupations or tasks prohibited for persons under age 18

Entertainment Industry Waiver

The Attorney General's Office has the authority to issue temporary waivers of time restrictions for children working in entertainment, theater or film (see, M.G.L. c. 149, §60 and M.G.L. c. 149, §104 ) The issuance of a waiver is grounded in the Attorney General's Office commitment to the safety and well-being of child actors and performers, compliance with the law, and support for the film and entertainment industries. The following information is designed to assist industry in understanding and applying for a waiver.

Note: All employers of minors must comply with relevant requirements set forth in the Massachusetts Child Labor Laws.

How to Apply for a Child Labor Waiver

The Attorney General's Office accepts applications for waivers through its Child Labor Waiver Unit.

Applications must be submitted at least one week prior to commencement of the work for which the waiver is sought and must include the $100 application processing fee (801 CMR 4.02).

Applicants must provide complete information regarding each minor for whom they are seeking a waiver and include the $100 application processing fee (per application) in the form of a certified bank check or money order made payable to: Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed or considered; application fees are non-refundable.

If your waiver is granted, you should receive a copy of the waiver within 2 to 4 days prior to the filming or production. If there are issues with your waiver, you will be contacted as soon as possible.

Application

The application requires the following information:

  • name, address, telephone number, and contact person for the company/organization that will employ the child;
  • name of play, movie or production;
  • total number of minor(s) included on application;
  • confirmation of company’s valid workers’ compensation insurance policy for all Massachusetts employees the name and date of birth and for each minor;
  • the name(s) and signature of each minor’s parent(s) or guardian(s),
  • the name of the parent or guardian who will be on site with each minor;
  • the dates and times (including start and finish time) of each performance (including rehearsals);
  • the locations (full address) of rehearsals and performances (these must comply with the attached guidelines in order to be considered);
  • name of on-set tutor for any minor kindergarten through 12th grade who will be working more than 3 days (This requirement applies for minors who are home schooled.  If a minor has a High School Equivalency Testing Certificate (formerly GED), this requirement is waived if copy of certificate is produced with the waiver application.); and
  • signed physician’s certification.

View and download the application and instructions:

Entertainment Industry Waiver Application Instructions pdf format of Child Labor Waiver Application Instructions

Entertainment Industry Waiver Application  pdf format of Entertainment Industry Child Labor Waiver

Completed applications along with a $100 bank check or money order (made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), must be sent to the Child Labor Waiver Unit.

If submitting your application by U.S. Mail, please send the form and payment to:

Child Labor Waiver Unit, Fair Labor Division
Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
P.O. Box 6303
Boston, MA 02114

If submitting your application by Federal Express, please send the form and payment to:

Child Labor Waiver Unit, Fair Labor Division
Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
100 Cambridge Street, 12th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Contact Information
Noreen Kelly, Child Labor Waiver Unit, Fair Labor Division
Email: noreen.kelly@state.ma.us
Phone: (617) 963-2329

Permitted Work Times and Requirements per Age Group pdf format of Permitted Times for Employment per Age Group

Restricted Work per Age Group pdf format of Restricted Work per Age Group