Prohibited Duties for Minors

Prohibited Duties for Minors


Occupations involving the sale, handling or serving of any liquor, either on a paid or voluntary basis.


Deep Fryers

Minors may use fryers for cooking purposes. Although L&I does not prohibit 16- and 17- year-old minors from cleaning a deep-fat fryer, Washington Hospitality Association recommends they not be involved in cleaning fryers due to the hazards associated with these activities.

A new DOSH Hazard Alert on Hot Oil Fryers may be useful for training purposes for workers of all ages,


Freezers and Coolers

Working in meat packing operations with routine and prolonged work in freezers and coolers.



No minor under age 17 may drive on a public roadway for work.  For 17-year-olds, occasional driving is permitted if certain requirements are met.  Work which involves directing moving motor vehicles in or around warehouses or loading/unloading areas including, but not limited to, loading docks. Driving forklifts and other heavy equipment is prohibited.


*Occasional driving is permissible if:

  • The minor is at least 17 years of age and has a valid state driver’s license for the type of driving involved;
  • Driving is restricted to daylight hours;
  • Such driving is only occasional, and is incidental to the minor’s employment;
  • Vehicle gross weight is under 6,000 pounds;
  • The minor has completed a state approved driver education course; and
  • Seat belts are provided in the vehicle and the minor has been instructed to use them.

Driving for time-sensitive purposes such as pizza delivery is prohibited. Policy ES.C.4.3 with more details on driving by minors can be found at


Powered-driven Equipment

Occupations involving operation, repair, oiling, cleaning, adjusting, or setting up powered food slicers (including for meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, bread or cheese) or power driven bakery machines, such as Hobart mixers and pizza dough rollers are prohibited.

Table-top food mixers and food processors are permitted.


Hotel Specific

Work as a maid or bellhop in motels or hotels, unless the minor is accompanied by a responsible adult whenever the work requires the minor to enter an assigned guest room, whether or not it is occupied at the time the minor is in the room. Minors may work in unassigned, unoccupied guest rooms unaccompanied by an adult.


Late Night

Service occupations if a minor works past 8 p.m., unless the minor is supervised by a responsible adult employee who is on the premises at all times. But teens cannot work past 10 p.m. on school nights.


Walk-in Coolers/Freezers

Work in freezers, meat coolers, and all work in preparing meats for sale (wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking are permitted if work is performed away from meat-cutting and preparation areas). Occasional entry into freezers or coolers for cleaning, obtaining stock or placing stock shall not be prohibited (Occasional is defined as working within the walk-in cooler/freezer for less than a consecutive hour).


Working at Heights

Work performed more than 10 feet above ground or floor level, such as on ladders, scaffolds or roofs, is not permitted.


Allowable Duties in Restaurants for 16- and 17-Year-Olds

  • Cooking and baking of any type;
  • Use of non-powered knives and slicers;
  • Use of waffle irons, milkshake blenders, toaster ovens, microwaves, coffee grinders, and espresso machines, and dishwashers;
  • Occasional entry into freezers or coolers for obtaining stock or placing -products in restaurants, grocery stores and other retail settings; (Occasional is defined as working within the walk-in cooler/ freezer for less than a consecutive hour).
  • Selling to motorists from a window counter is allowed.
  • More information can be obtained from the L&I teen worker web page at A new Food Service Fact Sheet from L&I provides a good summary of some of the work activities permitted for minors:


Fourteen- and 15-Year-Olds

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds are permitted to work in food service so long as it does not involve cooking or baking activities. They are more likely to be employed in a full-service restaurant where other jobs are available such as waiting on customers, bussing tables, and washing dishes, for instance. The hours of work for this age group are more limited than for 16- and 17-year-olds. They may be paid at 85 percent of the minimum wage.

Noncompliance with Washington’s teen labor laws can mean possible fines or loss of permits for your restaurant. Because of the additional restrictions imposed on 14- and 15-year-old workers, the Washington Hospitality Association recommends against hiring teens under the age of 16.

If you have any further questions about this topic or others, see the Department of Labor & Industries’ Help for Small Business page at


Rev. 12/31/17


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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Categories: HERO