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Payroll & Taxes

Hiring Minors: Know the Rules

Christine Batten, PHR
by Christine Batten, PHR on July 8, 2014

hiring minorsIf you're thinking about hiring a teenager to work in your business, you'll need to check out your state's Child Labor Laws. You also want to be familiar with the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Act restricts the types of jobs that may be held and the number of hours that may be worked for children in various age categories. Virtually every small business is covered by the Act if it is in any way engaged in interstate commerce. There are different restrictions for agricultural and non-agricultural employment as well.

Some jobs may be held by children of any age. Examples are newspaper delivery, performing in radio, television, movie, and theatrical productions, and working in non-hazardous jobs in their parents' non-agricultural business.

In non-agricultural jobs, the minimum age for a child to be eligible to work is 14. Children age 14 and 15 are limited to working outside school hours for no more than 3 hours on a school day and no more than 18 hours in a school week. They may work 8 hours on a non-school day and 40 hours on a non-school week. Additionally, they may not begin work before 7 a.m. or work after 7 p.m. during the school year. From June 1 to Labor Day they may work until 7 p.m. Children age 14 and 15 are also prohibited from working in mining, manufacturing, and hazardous jobs.

Children age 16 and 17 are not restricted in the number of hours or in the time of day that they may work. However, they may not work in jobs that have been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Hazardous jobs are:

  • manufacturing or storing explosives
  • driving a motor vehicle
  • mining
  • logging and sawmilling
  • power-driven wood working machines
  • any jobs that involve exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations
  • use of power-driven hoisting equipment
  • use of power-driven metal forming, punching, or shearing machines
  • meat packing or processing, including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines
  • use of power-driven bakery machines
  • use of power-driven paper products machines
  • manufacturing brick, tile, and related products
  • use of power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears
  • wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations
  • roofing operations
  • excavation operations

A person age 18 or older may perform any job for unlimited hours. However, employers are required to keep records of the date of birth, daily starting and quitting times, number of hours worked each day and week, and the occupation of any employees under the age of 19. This means that you will have to inquire whether a potential employee is older than 18 and you will have to obtain documentation of the date of birth for anyone you hire who is 18 or under.

In agricultural jobs, the minimum age for a child to work is 10 years old. Children age 10 and 11 may work on farms that are not covered by minimum wage requirements and children age 12 and 13 may work on farms that are. The work must be non-hazardous and not during school hours. The children must also have written consent from their parents or work on the same farm as the parents.

Children 14 and 15 years old may work in any non-hazardous farm job outside school hours. Children age 16 and up may work in any farm job for unlimited hours.

Your State may have child labor laws that are more or less restrictive than the Fair Labor Standards Act. You will have to comply with the more restrictive laws. Check with an attorney in your State who practices in the area of labor law for information on your obligations.


Christine Batten, PHR
Christine Batten, PHR

Christine has over 20 years of HR related experience with a background in labor and employment law.