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What do I need to consider when hiring a minor?

Certain  jobs, such as summer work and evening and weekend shift work, have a propensity to attract a high number of candidates under the age of 18. Employers considering hiring minors must understand the federal and state laws as they relate to the employment of minors.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) imposes federal restrictions on the employment of children and teens under the age of 18. See the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL's) FLSA Child Labor Provisions.

Some of these provisions include the following:

  • Children under 14 generally cannot be employed. Exceptions include certain jobs such as working for a parent or as a newspaper carrier.
  • Minors ages 14 to 15 are generally permitted to work a limited number of hours outside of school time in nonhazardous jobs. When school is in session, work hours are limited to three hours per day and 18 hours per week. Exceptions exist during holidays and school breaks when children may work as many as eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, but only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.
  • Teens ages 16 to 17 are not restricted from working during school hours but are subject to limits on the number of hours worked, with exceptions for agricultural employment and for student learners and apprentices.
  • Children under 18 may not work in certain hazardous occupations. Among these occupations are excavation, manufacturing explosives, mining and operating many types of power-driven equipment.

Each state has laws regulating the minimum work ages, hours of work, the types of employment allowed and required documentation for minors. As work permits or certificates may be required by state law, employers should check their individual state requirements, and consider any specific requirements surrounding their industry.

Employers should request age certificates from minors and keep them on file throughout the minor's employment. When employment is terminated, the employer must return the age certificate so that the minor can provide it to future employers as proof of age. Age certificates may be issued by the DOL Wage and Hour Division or by appropriate state agencies; see the DOL's YouthRules! website for more information. In states that do not have age certificates, an employer may use documents such as a birth certificate or a baptismal certificate with date of birth as a document for proof of age.

Under the FLSA, an employer is permitted to pay employees under age 20 a minimum wage equal to $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment if the youth's employment does not displace other workers. Guidance on the federal youth minimum wage can be found here


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