Like the federal government and many other states, California has rules specifying when children under 18 can work. The idea behind these rules is to protect children from abuse and make sure they are able to get the education they need without a job interfering.
Every child under 18 needs to have a valid work permit before they can take on a job. This permit can be revoked under certain conditions, such as if the student is not doing well in school.
Even with the permit, there are strict limitations on how long an employee under 18 can work, particularly when school is in session. For instance, someone who is at least 16 can work up to four hours on a school day. On a weekend, a minor can work up to 8 hours a day.
When school is not in session, a child over 14 is allowed to work a full eight-hour day. Generally, those who are at least 14 can work 40 hours a week, and teens 16 or over can work up to 48 hours a week. There are also rules that set what hours a person under 18 can work. Younger workers are not allowed to work graveyard shifts.
The penalties for violating these rules are severe and can even include criminal sanctions. Moreover, a young person or their families may be able to pursue legal remedies under California's wage and hour laws. If you believe your employer has violated the wage and hour laws, you should speak with an attorney to discuss your case.