Child labor is governed by both state and federal laws in Illinois. For 16-year-olds, federal law applies, except that 16-year-olds receiving minimum wage are paid at the state rate. Employers who violate these laws are also subject to punishment under the federal guidelines.

Applicable Law 

Illinois' Child Labor Law only applies to minors younger than 16. At 16, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) kicks in. The FLSA outlines where a 16-year-old can work, the hours he can work and the minimum wage he must be paid.

Hours and Occupations

The FLSA allows I6-year-olds to work as many hours as they like. However, the FLSA does restrict where 16-year-olds can work. Until they reach the age of 18, young people generally cannot work in industries the Secretary of Labor deems hazardous, even if they're employed by a parent. Such industries include coal mining, demolition and forestry service. It also includes jobs in which the teen will be exposed to or interacting with radioactive substances and explosives. However, if a 16-year-old is employed in the agricultural sector, he can work any farm job he wants to, including those deemed hazardous.


The FLSA requires Illinois employers to pay 16-year-olds at least the minimum wage. As of the time of publication, the minimum wage in Illinois is $7.75 for workers under 18 and $8.25 for workers older than 18. If a teen is working for tips, he must still be paid a minimum wage of $7.75, but his employer can take up to 40 percent of his wages as a tip credit. Employers must follow the same rules that apply to adult employees when it comes to overtime pay for 16-year-olds.


If an Illinois employer employs a 16-year-old in a hazardous nonagricultural job, the Department of Labor may hit him with a penalty assessment of $1,550. This penalty is for each violation. For example, an employer can be fined for each piece of equipment he let a teen use while working in the hazardous job or for every hazardous occupation he employed the teen in.