Employer Insights

Oregon Child Labor Laws - The Complete Guide for 2024

by Scott Herson-Hord, on Dec 21, 2023 10:53:35 AM

Oregon employers who employ minors in the state or who are looking to hire minors need to ensure that they are maintaining compliance with Oregon child labor laws. Referred to as Oregon Minor Labor Laws, requirements include protections for wages, breaks, hours worked, prohibited occupations, and more.

Here is everything you need to know about Oregon Child Labor Laws and the legal working age in Oregon.

Oregon Child Labor Laws Overview

Oregon child labor laws pertaining to hiring and employing minors are enforced and regulated by the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI). BOLI encourages minors, their parents, and employers to ensure a proper understanding of all laws and requirements to avoid any kind of legal trouble on the employer’s part, or avoid any kind of harm on the minor’s part, as the law is put in place to protect working minors in the state. 

Generally, employers need to be aware of the following things when hiring minors in Oregon:

  • Legal working age in Oregon
  • Minimum wage requirements
  • Break requirements
  • Adequate work requirements
  • Prohibited occupations and duties performed
  • Hours worked requirements
  • Permits, certifications, and applications
  • Special rules regarding agriculture
  • Employer responsibilities

How Old is a Minor in Oregon?

A minor as defined by Oregon Labor Laws, is any employee working in the state under the age of 18. 

Legal Working Age in Oregon

Generally, the legal working age in Oregon is 14 years old. However, there are certain exceptions for the agricultural and entertainment industries, in which younger individuals may be approved to work.

Minimum Wage Requirements for Minors

There are no specific requirements regarding wages for minors in Oregon. Minor employees are covered under Oregon minimum wage. Regarding overtime, minor employees are also covered by the same Oregon overtime laws and regulations that apply to adults.

Oregon Breaks for Minors

Oregon minor labor laws do have special requirements regarding breaks for employees under the age of 18.

For minors who work six or more hours in a single shift, a 30+ minute meal break is required. In the case that the minor has been relieved of all duties, this meal period can be unpaid.

Minors must also receive a 15+ minute paid rest break for every four hours worked in a shift. So if a minor works five hours, they would get one 15+ minute paid break (adults get 10-minute breaks). Minors are also owed a rest break if they work the major portion of four hours (considered two hours or more). In other words, if a minor works six hours, they are owed two rest breaks. This does not mean minors are owed a rest break for every two hours worked.

If a minor were to work eight hours, they would get two 15+ minute paid rest breaks and a 30+ minute meal break. 

Important to note is that paid rest breaks must be at least 15 minutes, and meal breaks at least 30 minutes. 

Adequate Work Requirements

A rather more unique requirement included in Oregon Minor Labor Laws is the requirement of adequate work. 

Essentially, an employer must provide an employee with an adequate amount of work in order to require that the employee report to work. Adequate work is defined as “enough work (or compensation in lieu of work) to earn at least one-half of the amount earned during the minor's regularly scheduled hours to work.”

In other words, in order to force an employee to report to work, an employer must give the employee enough work to earn at least half of what they would on a regularly scheduled shift. Alternatively, the employer can simply compensate the employee so they have earned at least half of what they would on a regularly scheduled shift.

Prohibited Occupations and Duties Performed in Oregon for Minors

Important to note is that, under federal child labor laws, there are several occupations and duties that employees under the age of 18 may not perform or work in. In Oregon, these restrictions extend to agricultural employees under Oregon Minor Labor Laws.

Important to note is that additional restrictions may apply to minors who are ages 14 to 15. Oregon BOLI recommends employers, who employ workers this young, contact them for more information.

Prohibited occupations and duties performed for minors in Oregon include:

  • Occupations involving explosives
  • Motor vehicle occupations
  • Coal mine occupations
  • Logging and sawmilling occupations
  • Power-driven woodworking machine occupations
  • Occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatus occupations
  • Power-driven metal working machine occupations
  • Occupations in mining, other than coal
  • Occupations in slaughtering or meat processing
  • Power-driven bakery machine occupations
  • Power-driven paper products machine occupations
  • Brick and tile manufacturing occupations
  • Operation of power saws and shears occupations
  • Occupations in wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations
  • Occupations in roofing operations
  • Occupations in Excavation Operations
  • Messenger service occupations
    • Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Under Federal Law, there are special rules and exceptions for minors ages 16-17 allowing them to use certain power-driven metal working machine tools, as well as certain bakery machines and many paper product machines.

Hours Worked Restrictions for Oregon Minors

Oregon employers must abide by certain hours worked requirements when it comes to minor employees in the state. Important to note is that the requirements differ depending on the age of the employee.

Hours Worked Requirements for Oregon Minors Ages 14 and 15

For Oregon minors between the ages of 14 and 15, the following scheduling rules apply:

  • When school is in session:
    • Minors may work up to three hours per day
      • Eight hours on non-school days
    • Minors may work up to 18 hours per week
    • Minors may only work between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • When school is not in session:
    • Minors may work up to eight hours per day
    • Minors may work up to 40 hours per week
    • Minors may also work between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. from June 1st through Labor Day

There are a few exceptions in the case that a minor is involved in a Work Experience, Career Exploration, or Work-Study Program.

Hours Worked Requirements for Oregon Minors Ages 16 and 17

For Oregon minors between the ages of 16 and 17, the following scheduling rules apply:

  • Minors may work any hours
  • Minors may work up to 44 hours per week

Permits, Certifications, and Applications for Minor Employment in Oregon

All employers in Oregon must file an annual Employment Certificate Application with Oregon BOLI in order to hire or employ minors EACH YEAR. Once approved, employers receive a certificate. Oregon BOLI sends renewal notices each year about 6 weeks in advance.

If at any point during the year, the duties of your minor employees change, you must fill out a Notice of Change Form and send it to BOLI for approval.

Aside from the requirements above, there are certain requirements for specific types of employers as well as specific ages of minors.

Non-Agricultural & Non-Entertainment Employer Minor Work Permits

For those employers not in the agricultural or entertainment industries, the following applications must be submitted:

  • New application - Annual Employment Certificate Application
    • (only for the first application, or for submitting an application with changes made)
  • Renewal application - Annual Employment Certificate Application
  • Making changes to a current certificate between renewals - Notice of Change
    • (only if making a change)
  • Employment permit application for under 14
    • Only for minors under the age of 14

Agricultural Employer Minor Work Permits

For those employers in the agricultural industry, the same applications must be submitted as above, but for only minors who are operating or riding on a tractor or some other type of powered farm equipment.

One exception is the “Notice of Change” which is unused here.

Entertainment Employer Minor Work Permits

For those employers in the entertainment industry, the same applications must be submitted as above, but for only minors who are going to be employed for more than five days.

For minors who are going to be employed for fewer than five days in more than one production, employers will need to apply for an annual entertainment registration certificate, replacing the need for the employment certificate. Important to note is that this is also limited to those whose employment is in connection with the production of commercial advertising; education, training, or institutional purposes; or documentaries.

For employers with 10 or more minors employed for a duration of 1-5 days, a short-term permit for the entertainment industry may be submitted instead.

What is an Entertainment Employee?

An entertainment worker is defined as an entertainer or performer in television, motion pictures, still photography, radio, modeling, recording, musical performances, theatrical appearances, and rodeos. The definition also applies to being a performer in connection with the production of commercial advertising, training, education, documentaries, or institutional purposes.

Special Rules for Minors in Oregon Working in Agriculture

Oregon like some other states, has special rules for minors working in Agriculture. 

Special requirements regarding agriculture include:

  • Minimum age requirements
  • Hours limitations for minors under 16
  • Hours limitations for minors over 16​
  • Prohibited agricultural work
  • Power-driven farm machinery requirements
  • Minimum wage/overtime/rest and meal period requirements
  • Employment certificates

To learn more about the agriculture industry requirements for minor employees in Oregon, see the Oregon BOLI website.

Other Employer Responsibilities Regarding Oregon Child Labor Laws

Aside from maintaining compliance with the requirements listed above, there are a few other requirements of Oregon employers when it comes to the employment of minors. 

Employers must also:

  • Verify the age of each minor hired from an appropriate proof-of-age document, such as a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate.
  • Maintain a list of all minors hired.
  • Post a validated Employment Certificate in a conspicuous location where all employees may readily see it
    • This is the primary posting requirement of employers under Oregon Minor Labor Laws

Penalties for Oregon Child Labor Law Violations 

As of March 7th, 2024, Governor Kotek signed into law new legislation expanding civil penalties for violating child labor laws

Specifically, Oregon House Bill 4004 (HB4004) raises the maximum penalty per violation from $1,000 to $10,000.

Get Help Managing Minor Workers in Oregon

The risk for non-compliance is greatest when hiring minor employees in Oregon, but the necessity to do so likely outweighs the risk. Therefore it is critical that employers looking to hire minors in Oregon understand and adhere to the requirements and restrictions regarding minor labor laws in the state.

Companies that are struggling with Oregon compliance regarding things like minor labor laws, or other areas of Oregon Labor Law, may want to consider reaching out to an Oregon Payroll and HR company for help.

Businesses looking for assistance can contact us, or get connected with a provider today!

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Guest Author: Scott Herson-Hord

Scott Herson-Hord is the CEO of Great Northern Staff Administrators (GNSA), an Oregon payroll services company that specializes in serving small to mid-size businesses with administrative solutions to streamline back-office processes from benefits to human resources. Starting his career in finance and working more than 10 years as a controller for various companies, Scott leveraged this experience over the next 22 years with GNSA to become one of the pacific northwest’s foremost experts in human capital management (HCM).



Topics:ComplianceOregon Labor LawsState Labor Laws

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