May 19, 2021
5 Things Employers Must Know Before Employing Minors

From seasonal work to weekend shifts, certain jobs tend to draw younger candidates—meaning those under 18 years old. If you’re new to employing minors, you may be wondering how you can give young workers a chance while remaining compliant.

Employers who want to hire minors must be sure to follow both federal and state regulations. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains Child Labor Provisions to protect employees under 18. Certain states may have even stricter laws on the subject.

Below, we’re addressing five essential questions about hiring youth workers.

1. What is the youngest age at which a person can be employed?

The FLSA states that 14 is the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. Children generally can’t be employed under age 14.

Of course, there are exceptions. Children of any age can:

  • Deliver newspapers.
  • Perform on radio, television, or theatrical productions.
  • Work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing, or hazardous jobs).
  • Perform babysitting or minor chores around a private home.
  • Work on a farm owned or operated by their parent or person standing in place of their parent.

Learn more about the FLSA age requirements.

2. Are there restrictions on when and how long minors can work?

Yes, the FLSA enforces restrictions on the employment of children and minors regarding when and how much they work.

Teens aged 14 to 15 are generally allowed to work a limited number of hours outside of school in non-hazardous jobs. Work hour limits include:

  • School Days & Weeks: 3 hours/day and 18 hours/week
  • Non-school Days & Weeks: Up to 8 hours/day and 40 hours/week
  • Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., or from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day

The FLSA does not limit the number of hours or times of day for workers 16 years and older.

Youth under 18 may not work in hazardous jobs (e.g., excavation, manufacturing explosives, mining, and operating many types of power-driven equipment).

3. Are there different state laws about employing minors?

Yes, laws about employing minors vary by state regarding:

  • Minimum work ages
  • Hours of work
  • Types of employment allowed
  • Required documentation for minors

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), if the state law and the FLSA overlap, the rule which is more protective of the minor applies. The same concept goes for minimum age requirements: If a state has a higher minimum age requirement, the employer must follow that standard.

Consult your state’s DOL to be sure you remain compliant when employing minors.

4. Is there a minimum wage for minors?

Yes, the FLSA states that employers must pay a youth minimum wage of $4.25 an hour to employees under 20 years of age only during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after their initial employment. This 90-day period starts with the minor’s first day of work for the employer.

After 90 days of employment or when the worker turns 20 (whichever comes first), the employer must pay them the minimum wage.

If the state or local law requires a higher minimum wage and makes no exception for employees under age 20, the higher wage applies.

Learn more on the FLSA youth minimum wage fact sheet.

5. Do employers need to obtain work permits or age certificates for youth workers?

While the federal government does not require work permits and proof-of-age certificates, many states require them for workers of certain ages. Again, check with your state’s DOL counselors for requirements.

Most states issue age certificates. The DOL will issue age certificates if the state does not provide them or if the employer requests that the minor provide one.

Employers who don’t obtain this documentation could face a fine, so it’s crucial to keep up with these regulations and adequately protect your minor employees and your company.

Are you considering hiring youth workers for additional help around the workplace but want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row first? We’ll help you create a fun, safe, and compliant work environment for young people. Contact BlueLion today at 603-818-4131 or for guidance and tips on employing minors.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.