Before You Hire Summer Help

Hiring kids for summer jobs is a long standing tradition, especially for small businesses.

It’s a win for everyone involved – the kids get a little work experience and some extra money and the businesses get a somewhat less expensive and highly energetic work force for the summer months.

Well, at least it’s less expensive as long as you follow the Department of Labor rules governing minors and how and when they work.

And these aren’t pesky little rules that no one bothers to enforce.  A Department of Labor decision recently assessed $277,000 in fines against movie theaters for hiring minors to do jobs that were outside the bounds of the approved list and working them longer hours than were legally acceptable.

Here’s what you need to know:

Work Hours

The days of legally employing children to work from dusk until dawn are long past (and rightfully so.)  There are very specific restrictions on the hours your student employees can work.

If you hire minors aged 14 and 15, they can only work:

  • Outside of school hours (not a concern during the summer months)
  • Only 18 hours or less during the week when school is in session
  • 40 hours a week when school is not in session
  • Only 3 hours during any day when school is in session
  • 8 hours a day when school is not in session
  • Between 7 am and 7 pm during the school year
  • Between 7 am and 9 pm from June 1st to Labor Day

If you hire 16 and 17 year olds, there are no federal limits on the hours they can work.  However, your state may have restrictions.  Contact us to find out whether or not your state is one that actually restricts the number of hours minors can work.

If your business participates in a program that gives school kids work experience or career training (like a health occupations or vocational training program), the students you hire can work as many as 3 hours during the school day and for up to 23 hours during the school week.

Type of Work

In addition to the length of their work days, there are also very specific restrictions on the types of work minors can do.  Failing to stay within the bounds of these restrictions can land you in hot water with the Department of Labor in the blink of an eye.  Pay close attention to the following restrictions and save yourself some serious money in fines.

Minors under the age of 14 are only allowed to take the following types of jobs:

  • Newspaper delivery
  • Baby-sitting
  • Acting and performing (actors and performers are exempt from federal child labor laws; however, check with us to find out how your state restricts their employment)
  • Agriculture, but only nonhazardous agriculture jobs and then only for children over the age of 12 with written permission from their parent or guardian.  And they can’t work during school hours.
  • Employment by their parent.  Parents can employ their kids except in manufacturing, mining or any other job where the minimum age for employment is 18.

Ages 14 and 15:

  • Office and clerical work, including operating office machines
  • Retail, grocer and restaurant work including cooking with electric or gas grills (not over open flames) or with deep fryers if they automatically lower and raise the baskets from the hot oil.
  • Cashiering, selling, modeling, price-marking, assembling orders, packing, shelving or bagging.
  • Janitorial work such as vacuuming or mopping, dusting, etc.
  • Grounds keeping or landscaping (but not using power mowers or other high-powered equipment)
  • Working in kitchens to prepare and serve food. But keep them out of the walk-in freezers except to go in and bring food out.
  • Artistic or creative work such as computer programming, graphic design, playing a musical instrument or painting.
  • Working in car washes or service stations as long as they are not working in a pit, rack or using a forklift or other hydraulic device.

This is just a quick and dirty list of the restrictions you face when hiring minors to fill summer positions.  As long as you follow the rules established by the Department of Labor, you can enhance your bottom line by hiring these energetic and ambitious teenagers.

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The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC

At The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, we answer your questions at your convenience; we stay in frequent communication; and we meet to discuss changes in life circumstances and in the law to ensure that your assets are protected.

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