Youth Law

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Under the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act (CYEOA), a minor is defined as any person under the age of eighteen, except a person who has received a high school diploma or a passing score on the general educational development examination. The state board of education may administer the general educational  development examination to any minor seventeen years of age or older who wishes to be considered an adult for the purpose of this article if such person is qualified to take the examination under the standards established by the state board of education. 

Laws that apply to youth employment include the CYEOA, enacted in 1971, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is a federal law and its regulations do not permit the employment of minors in a variety of circumstances. The Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics is a state agency that enforces provisions of the CYEOA and cannot intervene or assist in matters involving the application and interpretation of federal laws. For more information about federal law and the FLSA, please contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 720-264-3250 or 866-487-9243.

Youth Employment Law Fact Sheet

The Division may consider exemptions to some provisions of the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act.  For information on that, please contact the Division’s call center at (303)318-8441.  To apply for an exemption, please complete the form below.

Youth Law Exemption Request Form

The Division accepts complaints for alleged violations of Colorado youth law.  For complaints that involve hours worked, prohibited occupations, age restrictions, or other non-wage related violations of the CYEOA, complete and submit the Youth Law Complaint Form below.

Youth Law Complaint Form

Permissible Working Hours

In cases of dual jurisdiction between state and federal youth labor requirements, those that set the higher standard or provide greater protection to the employee would prevail. 

For Colorado, based on that, no employer is allowed to work a minor more than 40 hours in a week or more than eight hours in any 24-hour period.  Overall work limitations for those under 16 are:  no more than three hours on a school day including Fridays; a limit of eight hours on a non-school day; and no work time in excess of 18 hours during a school week.  For the purposes of enforcement in this area, Friday is considered a school day.  Additionally, on school days, during school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is permitted employment unless he or she has a school release permit.  Such a permit can be issued only by the superintendent of the school district where the minor is enrolled.

Minors under 16 can work between 7:00am and 7:00pm during the basic school year, but between June 1 and Labor Day, the evening hours are extended to 9:00pm.  Those standards do not apply to persons aged 16 and 17 or to minors employed as actors, models or performers.

Work performed by 14- and 15-year-olds during school hours is limited to Work Experience, Career Exploration and Work Study Programs.  This is a federal standard regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and followed by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics.  If a minor is home-schooled or enrolled in a private school, school hours are determined by those of the public school in the district where the minor lives.

The CYEOA does not restrict the times of day when 16- and 17-year-old employees may be scheduled to work.  The only limitations in this area pertain to the daily and weekly hours noted above.

When both federal and state laws apply, the more stringent standard must be observed. 


Colorado Law Federal Law
The Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act applies to all employment of minors in Colorado, where employment means any occupation engaged in compensation in money or other valuable consideration, whether paid to the minor or some other person, including, but not limited to, occupation as a servant, agent, or independent contractor. The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to employees of covered enterprises as defined by the law, as well as employees individually engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce.
Definition of a Minor
A minor means any person under the age of eighteen, except an individual who has received a high school diploma or a passing score on the general educational development examination.
Definition of a Minor
Federal child labor rules only apply to individuals under the age of eighteen.



Colorado Law Federal Law
Certain exemptions from the law exist for:
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Actors, models, and performers
  • School work and supervised educational activities
  • Home chores
  • Work done for a parent or guardian
  • (unless the parent or guardian receives payment for the work)
Certain exemptions from the law exist for:
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Actors and performers
  • Youths engaged in making wreaths
  • Youths younger than 16 working in a business solely owned or operated by their parents
  • Agricultural employment
  • Apprentices and student-learners


Minimum Age Requirements & Permissible Occupations

Colorado Law Federal Law
9 year-olds are permitted employment involving:
  • Delivery of handbills, advertising, and advertising samples.
  • Shoeshining.
  • Gardening and care of lawns involving no power-driven lawn equipment.
  • Cleaning of walks involving no power-driven snow-removal equipment.
  • Casual work usual to the home of the employer and not specifically prohibited.
  • Caddying on golf courses.
  • Any other occupation similar to those listed above and not specifically prohibited
14 is the minimum age for working, unless one of the FLSA exemptions applies.
12 year-olds are permitted employment involving:
  • Occupations listed above.
  • Sale and delivery of periodicals.
  • Door-to-door selling and delivery of merchandise.
  • Baby-sitting.
  • Gardening and care of lawns, including the operation of power-driven lawn equipment if such type of equipment is approved by the division or if the minor has received training conducted or approved by the division in the operation of the equipment.
  • Cleaning of walks, including the operation of power-driven snow-removal equipment.
  • Agricultural work, except for any such work considered hazardous under federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Any occupation similar to those enumerated above and not specifically prohibited.
14 is the minimum age for working, unless one of the FLSA exemptions applies.
14 year-olds are permitted employment involving:
  • Occupations listed above.
  • Non-hazardous occupations in manufacturing.
  • Public messenger service and errands by foot, bicycle, and public transportation.
  • Operation of automatic enclosed freight and passenger elevators.
  • Janitorial and custodial service, including the operation of vacuum cleaners and floor waxers.
  • Office work and clerical work, including the operation of office equipment.
  • Warehousing and storage, including unloading and loading of vehicles.
  • Non-hazardous construction and non-hazardous repair work. See Advisory Bulletin # 4 (III) for hazardous occupations for minors.
  • Occupations in retail food service.

Occupations in gasoline service establishments including (but not limited to):

  • Dispensing gasoline, oil, and other consumer items.
  • Courtesy service.
  • Car cleaning, washing, and polishing.
  • The use of hoists (where supervised).
  • Changing tires. Note: No minor may inflate or change any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring.

Occupations in retail stores including:

  • Cashiering.
  • Selling.
  • Modeling.
  • Art work.
  • Work in advertising departments.
  • Window trimming.
  • Price marking by hand or machine.
  • Assembling orders.
  • Packing and shelving.
  • Bagging and carrying out customers' orders.
  • Occupations in restaurants, hotels, motels, or other public accommodations. Note: minors may not operate power food slicers and grinders.
  • Occupations related to parks or recreation including, but not limited to, recreation aides and conservation projects.
  • Any other occupation which is similar to those enumerated above.
14 and 15 year-olds may work in:
  • Retail stores.
  • Food service establishments.
  • Gasoline service stations.
The jobs 14 and 15 year-olds may perform include:
  • Bagging and carrying out customer orders.
  • Cashiering, selling, modeling, artwork, advertising, window trimming, or comparative shopping.
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean-up work and grounds maintenance, including vacuums and floor waxers, but not power-driven mowers, cutters, and trimmers.
  • Delivery work by foot, bicycle, or public transportation
  • Kitchen work in preparing and serving food and drinks, but not cooking or baking.
  • Office and clerical work.
  • Pricing and tagging goods, assembling orders, packing, or shelving.
  • Pumping gas, cleaning and polishing cars and trucks (but not including car repair, using garage lifting racks, or working in pits).
  • Wrapping, weighing, pricing, or stocking any goods as long as they don't work where meat is being prepared and don't work in freezers or coolers.
 16 year-olds and older are permitted employment involving:
  • Any occupation listed above
  • Any occupation which involves the use of a motor vehicle if the minor is licensed to operate the motor vehicle pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes.
16 year-olds and older are permitted employment in any non-hazardous occupation.
18 year-olds are not minors and are not subject to Colorado youth laws. 18 year-olds are not subject to Federal child labor laws.
Both the CYEOA and the FLSA list hazardous occupations that are prohibited for minors of any age.  To review the state standards, please refer to the CYEOA fact sheet.  For the list of prohibited jobs at the federal level, please visit the US Department of Labor Youth Rules website and click on the box labeled, “Know The Rules.


Work Hours

Colorado Law Federal Law
  • On school days, during school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is permitted employment except as granted by a school release permit.
  • On school days, after school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is permitted to work in excess of 6 hours unless the next day is not a school day.
  • Except for babysitters, no minor under the age of 16 is permitted employment between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless the next day is not a school day.
  • Minors may not work more than 40 hours per week or 8 hours in any 24-hour period unless there is a business emergency.
14 and 15 year-olds can only work:
  • Before and after school hours.
  • After 7:00 a.m. or before 7:00 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day when they can work until 9:00 p.m.
14 and 15 year-olds cannot work:
  • More than 3 hours a day on school days.
  • More than 18 hours per week in school weeks.
  • More than 8 hours a day on non-school days.
  • More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
  • 16 year-olds and older may work for any number of hours at any time of the day.


Work Permits and Age Certificates

Colorado Law Federal Law
  • Any employer desiring proof of the age of any minor employee or prospective employee may require the minor to submit an age certificate.
  • Upon request of a minor, an age certificate shall be issued by or under the authority of the school superintendent of the district or county in which the applicant resides.
  • Work permits are NOT required under Colorado law.
Federal child labor laws do not require work permits.



Colorado youth law says work on farms for young persons aged 12 and up is allowed unless the occupation is considered hazardous at the federal level.  For information on federal agricultural standards, go to the link to the US Department of Labor Youth and Labor website below and click on the sub-topic, “Agricultural Employment.”


Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act


US Department of Labor Youth and Labor
US Department of Labor Youth Rules
Fair Labor Standards Act

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