Restrictions in the Tennessee Child Labor Laws

by Jennifer Mueller; Updated September 26, 2017
Teenage couple buying popcorn in a movie theater

Tennessee's Child Labor Act restricts the hours minors can work and prohibits them from working in certain occupations. The state aims to protect young people from working in hazardous conditions or in situations where their work would interfere with their schooling. All Tennessee employers that have teenagers working must post a legal notice in a conspicuous place that details these requirements.

Restrictions on Age

Generally, children under the age of 14 cannot be employed in Tennessee. Any employer found violating this law is guilty of a felony. However, the law does allow children that young to work in certain fields or under certain circumstances. For example, children can work running errands or delivering newspapers, or as babysitters. Tennessee law also provides exceptions for children working for their parents, children in seasonal agricultural work, or children who are musicians or entertainers.

Restrictions on Time of Day

Tennessee 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work during school hours, or anytime between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. if they have school the next day. When school is not in session, these teenagers cannot work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Once a minor turns 16, the law generally prohibits her from working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday while school is in session. The law does not restrict the time of day or night she can work when school is not in session. With signed parental consent, she can work as late as midnight up to three nights a week.

Restrictions on Number of Hours

During the school year, 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work more than three hours a day or 18 hours a week in Tennessee. When school is closed, the law restricts employers from working them more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Tennessee law does not restrict the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work in a day or a week, regardless of whether school is in session.

Restrictions on Type of Work

Tennessee prohibits all minors from doing work that could be dangerous to their health or safety. These occupations generally include any work that involves contact with explosives, radioactivity or dangerous chemicals or biological agents. The state also restricts minors from working with power-driven machinery or in factories, saw mills or mines. Other restricted occupations include roofing, meat processing, and commercial driving.

Minors in the state cannot take orders for alcohol or serve alcohol in any establishment, and cannot work at all if alcohol accounts for 25 percent or more of the business's total sales.

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

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