Every summer, many businesses look to bolster their workforce by hiring students on summer break. However, many employers are still unaware that when it comes to youth employment, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other regulations apply. Keep in mind the following when employing teens:
Unless otherwise exempt, a covered minor employee is entitled to receive the same minimum wage, overtime, safety and health, and non-discrimination protections as adult workers.
The FLSA sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing, or hazardous jobs); and perform baby-sitting or minor chores around a private home.
During summer break (June 1 to Labor Day), 14- and 15-year-olds can work a maximum of 40 hours a week, which must be between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. They can’t work more than three hours on school days. Those who are 16 or 17 can work for an unlimited number of hours, provided all other FLSA requirements are met. At age 18, there’s no limit to the number of hours that may be worked.
Remember that other federal and state laws may have higher standards. When these apply, the more stringent standard must be observed. Check with your state’s department of labor or wage and hour division for guidance concerning specific state and local laws.
Teens can be a valuable asset to businesses during summer break. But remember, they’re entitled to receive the same protections as adults. If you are found to be in violation, your company may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each minor employed in violation, or even face criminal prosecution.
For more information, check out the Labor Dept.’s Web site at www.youthrules.dol.gov.
Senior Executive Counsel
NFIB Small Business Legal Center
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