Brief Comparison of Iowa and Federal Child Labor Laws

Employers covered

  • Iowa – covers all employers in state.
  • Federal – does not cover all employers.

Hours for 14-15 year olds

  • Iowa – may work four hours per day on school days, up to 28 hours per week when school is in session. Students have been allowed to work during flex school hours (new scheduling), provided scheduled school is not missed.
  • Federal – may work three hours per day on school days, up to 18 hours per week when school is in session. May not work during set school hours.


  • Iowa – Criminal Penalty - parent, guardian, or other person having control of a minor child and permits them to work in violation of the law is guilty of a serious misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $315.00 - $1,875.00 and/or up to one year imprisonment per offense.
    • Civil Penalty - employer may have civil penalty up to $10,000.00 per violation per child
  • Federal – employers may have administrative fine up to $100,000.00 per minor; for a second offense committed after conviction of similar offense, fine of $100,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. District Court restraining order can be  requested to prevent future child labor violations (civil or criminal).

Age Certificates/Work Permits

  • Iowa – requires work permits for 14-15 year olds, employers may require certificates of age for 16-17 year olds.
  • Federal – no work permits required.

16-17 year olds

  • Iowa – prohibits occupations involving operation of laundry, dry cleaning, or dyeing machinery, and dangerous/ hazardous chemicals.
  • Federal – does not specifically prohibit. Refer to 17 listed Hazardous Occupations:
    • if any of them apply, it would be prohibited.

Child Labor in Agriculture

  • Iowa – exempts children 14 years and older and allows them to detassel corn during June-August; also allows part-time work in agriculture (part time is defined as half of the regularly allowed hours).
  • Federal – Prohibits work during school hours for 14-15 year olds, prohibits hazardous occupations. 12-13 year olds allowed to work on parent’s farm and on farms where minimum wage is required, with their parent’s permission. Has complete set of regulations: Child Labor Requirements in Agriculture.

School Training

  • Iowa – allows students under an instructor in industrial arts department, or instructor in a school shop, or industrial plant or vocational education course, or with apprentices; no hour limits.
  • Federal – allows training without employment relationship, regardless of age; however, 16 or older may also be employed during school hours; hazardous occupations are prohibited for all.


  • Iowa -
    • Detasseling
    • Part-time work in agriculture: 14-15 year olds may work in agriculture occupations for less than 20 hours per week.
    • Child of any age may work in any occupation or business at any time doing any type of work in a business operated by child’s parents if parent is on premises.
    • Allows modeling under 16 years of age between 7 AM and 10 PM, for not more than 12 hours per month with a special order.
    • Allows juvenile court to order under age children to complete work assignments when appropriate.
  • Federal –
    • exempts age and hours of children working in parents’ business when parent is sole proprietor; prohibits hazardous work even in parents’ business.
    • allows actors, performers in motion pictures, radio, or television.

Special Orders

  • Iowa – may issue written special orders allowing prohibited work to occur.
  • Federal – No waivers.