Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Employment Laws

For questions regarding youth laws or to file a complaint regarding youth laws, you can call 605.773.3681. Do not employ youth without a thorough understanding of the relevant laws.

Youth Employment

South Dakota has a complex set of youth employment laws.

Children younger than 16 years may not be employed:

  • In any occupation dangerous to life, health or morals*
  • For more than four hours per school day or 20 hours per school week*
  • For more than eight hours per non-school day or 40 hours per non-school week*
  • Later than 10 p.m. on a school night*
    Furthermore, children younger than 14 years may not be employed:
    • During school hours
    • Later than 7 p.m.*

*Where a state child labor law is less restrictive than the federal law, the federal law applies. Where a state child labor law is more restrictive than the federal law, the state law applies.

Various exceptions to these laws exist for child actors, jobs pumping gas or detasselling hybrid seed corn, employment by parents, employment necessary for the child's support or employment using agricultural equipment. Youth employment laws also cover the facilities in which a child may work, how often it must be cleaned and when it can be inspected.

See South Dakota Codified Laws related to youth employment (60-12, subsections 1-14).

What if Federal Youth Employment Laws are More Restrictive than State Laws?

Employers are generally subject to both state child labor laws and the federal child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 212(c), and the FLSA regulations at 29 CFR Part 570. Certain provisions of South Dakota state law may be less restrictive than federal law, and employers covered by the FLSA that only follow a less restrictive provision of South Dakota state law will be in violation of federal law. See 29 U.S.C. 218(a). For more information on federal child labor law, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division Website at


See our Federal Youth Labor Laws FAQ (Adobe PDF format).

For more information about federal youth employment laws, see the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) YouthRules website, including a Young Worker Toolkit.

More information on federal laws related specifically to youth working in agricultural occupations is also available on the U.S. DOL website.

Employer Webinar on Youth Employment Laws

A recording of the "Youth Employment Laws: What You Need to Know," webinar is available on YouTube. Offered jointly by the South Dakota Retailers Association and DLR, the webinar can help employers navigate federal and state youth employment laws.

YouTube video: Employer Webinar on Youth Employment Laws


The information provided on this page should in no way be considered legal advice. For specific information about your legal rights, you should consult your personal attorney. If you have a general question, contact us.