With summer just around the corner and schools about to let out for the hot months, many teenagers are seeking employment. Hiring a teenager doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper or easier labor, however, and there are several things both employers and potential employees should know about hiring underage workers. The United States has some of the most advanced and stringent child labor laws in the world, and there are several provisions of these laws to ensure the safety and comfort of kids who decide to work. “Generally speaking,” according to the Department of Labor, “the Fair Labor Standards Act sets the minimum age for employment (14 years for non-agricultural jobs), restricts the hours youth under the age of 16 may work, and prohibits youth under the age of 18 from being employed in hazardous occupations.”
The Department of Labor set up an initiative called YouthRules! to encourage communication and understanding between employers and their teenage employees. The initiative very clearly sets out the laws regarding teenage non-agricultural labor—if a child is 14 or 15-years-old, according to YouthRules!, he or she may not work more than three hours on a school day, including Friday, and no more than 18 hours per week when school is in session. The laws change slightly when school is not in session. There are, of course, some exceptions—if the child has graduated from high school or in an approved Work Experience or Work Study program these rules do not apply.
The rules are a bit different regarding agricultural employment for teenagers. According to the Department of Labor, the Federal Child Labor Provisions in Agriculture do not require minors to obtain working papers or limit the number of hours a child can work. The minimum age for employment outside of school hours is still 14, but for ages 12 and 13 a child “may be employed outside of school hours with written parental consent or on a farm where the minor’s parent or person standing in place of parents is also employed.” The same goes for children under 12.
If you or someone you know has questions about hiring teenagers, especially with the boon of young workers about to hit the market for the summer months, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated employment attorney today.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net