Schools Out for Summer! Things to Consider When Hiring Minor Workers

By Hilary Atkins posted 05-31-2017 03:23 PM


The final bell has rung (do they even do that anymore?) and school is over for the year. While we’ve addressed internships in general in the past, and what requirements must be in place to treat workers as unpaid volunteers, this blog is geared towards the younger set. Here, we dispense a modicum of advice regarding teens out of school looking to earn some extra spending money, and parents seeking to keep them occupied for the next couple of months.

Both state and federal laws restrict the employer of minors, also called “child labor”, and what follow are some of the highlights of what you should watch for:

  • Per federal law, workers under the age of 18 cannot work in jobs that are defined by the Secretary of Labor to be “hazardous” (e.g. operating heavy machinery, driving, roofing, etc.)
  • Employees must be at least 14 years old, unless they are children of the owners of the business (and the federal prohibition against hazardous jobs still applies.)
  • Depending on the age of the teen, certain occupations are prohibited. 14-15 year olds are limited primarily to performing office and clerical work (including IT functions.)
  • Workers under 16 years of age may not work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week and may not work overtime. Additionally, workers under 16 cannot work past 9 PM during the summer months. Minors aged 16-17 may not work more than 8 hours per day or a 48-hour workweek.
  • Minors are generally entitled to receive at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/hour at the federal level, and many states have their own higher minimum wage.
  • Caution your managers to be very vigilant of all harassment and discrimination policies in the workplace. Studies have shown that teen employees are more commonly subject to harassment in the workplace, because they are perceived as more vulnerable.
  • Permissible withholdings from minors’ paychecks vary widely. Be sure to consult your state’s department of labor regulations.
  • Some states require work permits for minors, which must be kept on file, with length of retention varying state-by-state as well.

State and federal laws contain numerous exceptions and limitations to those laws governing employment of minors mentioned here. Be sure to review all relevant statutes and regulations, or seek legal advice, when hiring minors.