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Payroll & Taxes

What Employers Need to Know About Hiring Minors

Christine Batten, PHR
by Christine Batten, PHR on May 11, 2017

iStock-514061880.jpgSchool’s almost out for summer and that means it’s time to think about hiring minors to work during their break. Keep in mind, there are many laws on the state and federal level that place restrictions on employees under the age of 18. They include:

  • Types of work they perform
  • Start and end times
  • Breaks
  • Number of hours per day
  • Number of hours per week

If you’re not careful, you could unintentionally violate child labor laws and end up paying major penalties. On the federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates child labor laws and the Department of Labor (DOL) enforces them. Those governing agencies have established the number of hours (per day and week) minors of various ages may work, as well as the types of work they may perform. Under federal law, employers may be subject to civil penalties for each employee who is the subject of a child labor violation, in addition to possible criminal penalties and/or imprisonment. Employers may also be subject to further penalties for violations of state child labor laws.

State Laws

State child labor laws often impose greater or different requirements on employers. For example, meal or rest breaks are not a federal requirement, but the state of Florida requires minors not work more than four consecutive hours without a 30-minute uninterrupted break (paid or unpaid). Here are some of Florida’s other limitations on youth:

  • Minors ages 14-15 can work up to three hours per school day, including Friday
  • Minors ages 14-15 can work up to 18 hours per week when school is in session
  • Minors ages 14-15 can work up to 8 hours per day when school is not in session
  • Minors ages 14-15 can work up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session
  • Minors ages 14-15 can only work after 7:00 a.m. and before 7:00 p.m. every day except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours extend through 9:00 p.m.
  • Minors ages 16-17 can work unlimited hours

Unpaid Internships

Interning is a great way to help students learn a trade that could advance their skills and career.  However, there is no such thing as “free labor.” There are limited circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit,” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.  Apply the following six benchmarks when making this determination:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 
  • The employer and the intern understand the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

It is important to keep in mind the purpose of having unpaid interns is not to supplement your workforce or even benefit your business operations. Likewise, you’ll want to verify with your liability insurance carrier that you would be protected in the event an intern was injured on your worksite.

If you have questions about the child labor laws in your state, or want additional guidance on the rules regarding interns, contact one of our HR experts for FrankAdvice.

Are you asking illegal interview questions?

Christine Batten, PHR
Christine Batten, PHR

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