Massachusetts law about child labor

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on child labor law.

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Table of Contents

Summary of laws

Massachusetts laws regulating minors' work hoursMass. Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Includes both federal and state laws.

Massachusetts laws

MGL. c.149, §§ 56-105 Work by children

Federal laws

29 USC § 212 Child labor
Be sure to also look at Youth and labor, US Dept. of Labor. To find laws and regulations, select a topic, then click on Laws and Regulations on this topic.

Selected cases

Carey's Case, 66 Mass. App. Ct. 749 (2006)
"'The purpose of G. L. c. 149, § 62, is to prevent minors under eighteen from being exposed to dangers which they might not fully realize on account of their youth, inexperience, lack of foresight and want of restraint.' It is for this reason that § 62 bars minors' operation of motor vehicles 'of any description.' The prohibition is not limited to motor vehicles operated on public ways or highways."

Commonwealth v. Avram A., 83 Mass. App. Ct. 208 (2013)
Juvenile could be required to work to pay restitution. "[W]e ... reject the juvenile's suggestion that he should be excused from paying restitution because it is contrary to contemporary mores or even "taboo" to permit a juvenile of twelve to sixteen years to earn money by obtaining a paper route, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, baby-sitting, delivering groceries, or by recycling items upon which a deposit had been paid. As the judge properly noted, there exists statutory permission for children as young as nine years of age to participate in the delivery and sales of newspapers, G. L. c. 149, § 69, and there is no statutory prohibition against the other remunerative pursuits ordinarily associated with childhood listed above."

Web sources

Child labor laws in Massachusetts, Mass.gov.  
Poster that summarizes the law. Spanish version is available here.

Employment by parents, US Dept. of Labor.
"The Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum age requirements do not apply to minors employed by their parents, or by a person acting as their guardian. An exception to this occurs in mining, manufacturing and occupations where the minimum age requirement of 18 years old applies."

How old must a child be to babysit in Massachusetts?, Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.
We have been unable to find an applicable Massachusetts law. According to the US Department of Labor:
"The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs); and perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home. Also, at any age, youth may be employed as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths."

The Massachusetts guide for working teens, Mass. Dept. of Public Health, April 2017.
Explains rights and responsibilities for teenagers working or looking for a job.

Prohibited jobs for minors, Mass. Attorney General. 

Working under 18, Mass. Attorney General's Fair Labor Division.
Provides information on restrictions on children's work. "Generally, the work of minors is restricted with respect to three main areas: minimum age, hours, and occupations. Working minors are protected by both state and federal laws. For each aspect of the child labor laws, the most restrictive of the two laws applies."

Youth employment permit information, Mass. Dept. of Occupational Safety.
Summarizes child labor laws, and provides access to the necessary work permit application for teens ages 14-17

Print sources

Employment law, Mass. Practice v.45, §§ 16:20 et seq., Thomson West, with supplement.

Your rights on the job, pp.48-49, Labor Guild of Boston, 2008.

Additional Resources

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Last updated: October 14, 2022
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