Massachusetts laws regulating minors’ work hours

Labor law for workers aged 14 to 18

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This is a compilation of state and federal child labor laws. The most protective laws are presented here and apply to all employers of teens including parents who may employ their children. There are additional regulations in this area not summarized here and some exceptions for employers in agricultural industries.

Questions about the state child labor laws should be directed to the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Fair Labor Division by calling (617) 727-3465.

Questions about federal child labor laws should be directed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division by calling (617) 624-6700.

Summary of Massachusetts laws regulating Minors’ work hours

Prohibited Jobs (Hazardous Orders)

Persons under 14 may not work. There are a few exceptions to this such as working as news carriers, on farms, and in entertainment (with a special permit).

Persons under 16 may NOT:

  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven machinery (except office machines or machines for retail, cleanup, or kitchen work not otherwise prohibited
  • Cook (except on electric or gas grills that do not have open flames)
  • Operate fryolators, rotisseries, NEICO broilers, or pressure cookers
  • Operate clean or repair power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers, processors, cutters, and mixers
  • 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 or occupation (e.g., in a factory, as an assembler)
  • Work on or use ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes
  • 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 door-to-door street sales, including work as a sign waiver (except directly outside employer establishment)
  • 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
  • Ride in or on a motor vehicle (except in passenger seat if wearing a seatbelt)
  • Work doing laundry in a commercial laundry or dry cleaning establishment
  • Work as a public messenger
  • Work at processing operations (e.g., in meat or fish, poultry catching, cooping, cracking nuts, bulk or mass mailing)
  • Work around boilers or in engine rooms
  • Do industrial homework
  • Work with dangerous electrical machinery or appliances
  • Work in any of the occupations or tasks prohibited for persons under age 18
  • Engage in work that is determined by the Massachusetts Attorney General to be dangerous to the health and well-being of minors

Persons under 18 may NOT:

  • Drive a vehicle, forklift, or work assist vehicle (except golf carts in certain circumstances)
  • Ride as a passenger on a forklift
  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven meat slicers, grinders, or choppers
  • Operate, clean, or repair power-driven bakery machines (except for certain countertop models and pizza dough rollers)
  • Work 30 feet or more above ground or water
  • Handle, serve, or sell alcoholic beverages
  • Use circular, chain, or band saws; guillotine shears; wood chippers; and abrasive cutting discs
  • Use power-driven woodworking machines
  • Use, service, drive, or work from hoisting machines
  • Operate or load power-driven balers, compactors, or paper processing 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 forest fire fighting, forest fire prevention, timber track operations, and forestry service
  • Work in logging, sawmilling, or mining
  • Work slaughtering, packing, or processing meat and poultry
  • 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

Tasks not specifically permitted by the US DOL Secretary of Labor are prohibited.

Legal work hours for teens in Massachusetts
After 8:00 p.m., all minors must have the direct and immediate supervision of an adult supervisor who is located in the workplace and is reasonably accessible to the minor, unless the minor works at a kiosk, cart or stand in the common area of an enclosed shopping mall that has security from 8:00 p.m. until the mall is closed to the public.

14- and 15 year-olds work hours
Only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year

Not during school hours
Only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. during the summer (from July 1 through Labor Day)

Maximum Hours When School Is in Session

  • 18 hours a week
  • 3 hours a day on school days
  • 8 hours a day Saturday, Sunday, holidays
  • 6 days a week

Maximum Hours When School Is Not in Session

  • 40 hours a week
  • 8 hours a day
  • 6 days a week

16 and 17-year olds work hours
Only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (on nights preceding a regularly scheduled school day) - if the establishment stops serving clients or customers at 10:00 p.m., the minor may be employed until 10:15 p.m.

Only between 6 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. (on nights not preceding a regularly scheduled school day).

Exception for restaurants and racetracks: only between 6 a.m. and 12:00 midnight (on nights not preceding a regularly scheduled school day).

Maximum hours of work - whether or not school is in session

  • 48 hours a week
  • 9 hours a day
  • 6 days a week

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