Child Labor Laws

There are state, as well as federal laws, that regulate the employment of minors. The following provides information about the hours and types of occupations that minors may work and explains how to obtain the permits and certificates needed to comply with the laws. Following the rules and restrictions ensures that Rhode Island's youth are able to work and earn in safe environments while furthering their education and gaining work experience.

What jobs can youth do?

  • Office and clerical work, including operation of office machines
  • Cashiering, selling, modeling art work, work in advertising departments, window trimming and comparative shopping
  • Price marketing and tagging by hand or by machine, assembling orders, packing and shelving
  • Bagging and carrying out customers’ orders
  • Errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transport
  • Cleanup work, including the use of vacuum cleaners and non-commercial floor waxers, and maintenance of grounds, but not including the use of power-driven mowers or cutters
  • Kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of such work, such as, dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers and milkshake blenders
  • Cleaning vegetables and fruits, and wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing and stocking goods when performed in areas physically separate from areas where meat is prepared for sale, and from outside freezers or meat coolers.

Prohibited hazardous occupations for ALL MINORS under the age of 18:

  • Production and storage of explosives
  • Coal mining
  • Logins and saw milling
  • Power-driven woodworking machines
  • Exposure to radioactive substances
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatuses 
  • Power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines
  • Slaughtering or meat packing, processing or rending
  • Power-driven meat slicer
  • Power-driven bakery machines
  • Manufacturing brick, tile and kindred products
  • Power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears
  • Wrecking demolition and ship breaking operations
  • Roofing operations
  • Excavation operations

Prohibited hazardous occupations for ALL MINORS 14-15:

  • Any manufacturing or mining job
  • Processing occupations; filleting fish, dressing poultry, cracking nuts or laundering
  • Occupations with duties in workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined or processed
  • Public messenger service
  • Operating or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery (other than office machines and machines in retail food service and establishments
  • Occupations found and declared hazardous by official designation
  • Occupations in connection with:
    1. Transportation of persons or property by rail, highway, air, on water, pipeline or other means
    2. Warehousing and Storage
    3. Communication and Public Utilities
    4. Construction (including repair)

      Except office and sales work in connection with these four categories as long as such work if not performed at the site of the prohibited jobs.

  • Dispensing gasoline or other fuel
  • Docks, private or public
  • Parking lot attendants
  • Car Washes, either hand or machine
  • Occupations in billiard or poolrooms
  • Any work in a tunnel
  • Any work in a boiler or engine room
  • Outside window washing
  • All work using ladders or scaffolds
  • Work in freezers or meat coolers

When can youth work?

If you're 14 or 15, you cannot work:

  • During school hours.
  • Before 6:00 am or after 7:00 pm, except during school vacations when work is permitted until 9:00 pm For businesses covered by federal law, work is permitted from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm from June 1 until Labor Day.
  • More than eight hours per day. For businesses covered by federal law, more than 3 hours per day on school days.
  • More than 40 hours per week. For businesses covered by federal law, more than 18 hours per week in school weeks, or more than 40 hours per week in non-school weeks.

Exception: An exception is provided for minors employed pursuant to a Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP).

If you're 16 or 17, you cannot work:

  • More than 48 hours per week.
  • More than 9 hours per day (or 9 3/5 hours per day for a 5-day work week).
  • Before 6 am or after 11:30 PM (1:30 AM if no school the next day).
  • Without an 8-hour respite between the end of a shift on one day and the start of work the next day.

Exception: There are no hour limitations during school vacations. There are no limitations on hours or a curfew for 16 and 17 year olds who have left school.



Rhode Island employers who hire minors 14-15 must fill out the Intention to Employ A Minor form. If you are an employer in Rhode Island and you hire a minor, it is your responsibility to keep a Special Limited Permit to Work form for all your employees under 16 years of age.

Once the minor's Special Limited Permit to Work form is completed, it is important for the employer to keep a copy at the place of business. This serves as the proof of age of minor employees.

*Update as of 07/01/2023:  Employers are no longer required to collect a Certificate of Age for minors 16 & 17 years old.  Employers still must be aware of the prohibited jobs and curfews for minors 16 & 17 years old.


If you are 14-15 and want to work in Rhode Island, you must obtain a Special Limited Permit to Work.

Once you receive a copy of your Intent to Employ a Minor form, take it, along with a copy of your Birth Certificate, Baptismal Certificate, Passport, School Records or Drivers License to the School Department in the city/town where you live, and they will issue you either a Special Limited Permit to Work or a Certificate of Age form.