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3 Things Employers Should Know About Hiring Youth Workers

Christine Batten, PHR
by Christine Batten, PHR on May 17, 2018

youth workers The summer is upon us, and in Florida, that means tourists and sunshine (and of course a thunderstorm a day). It’s the time of year when many employers seek to hire seasonal help and they look to youth workers, especially in retail. Just keep in mind, workers under 18 are subject to stricter federal and state work and safety rules.

Under federal law, you need to keep track of the ages of all workers under 18, and some states require special paperwork such as work permits.

#1 Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Rules When Hiring Youth Workers

Youth under 18:

  • Cannot work in hazardous occupations or use some machinery, including bakery mixers and meat slicers.
  • Cannot drive on the job, although there is an exception for 17-year-olds during daylight hours.

Workers who are 14 and 15:

  • Can work only three hours a day on school days and eight on non-school days.
  • Can work no more than 18 hours each week when school is in session and 40 hours during vacations.
  • Can work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. most of the year, but until 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day.

#2 Safety Tips When Hiring Youth Workers

When it comes to safety, make sure to train the youth workers as much as you train other employees, even though they may not stay as long. Workers under 25 have higher rates of injuries than older age groups. Not only do they lack work experience, they lack life experience and may not know when to raise the red flag in an unsafe situation.

  • Stress that everyone can speak up about safety concerns.
  • Encourage supervisors to model safe practices, like wearing gloves and safety goggles.
  • Pair young people with experienced workers who look out for them and help them become better workers.
  • Give younger workers different color clothing on job sites so managers have a quick visual reminder of who should stay away from certain equipment.

#3 Overcoming Challenges with Youth Workers

Keep in mind that this is likely the youth worker’s first job and you may have to manage things like attendance and cell phone use. Detailed policies can help curb abuse of the rules for workers of any age. Keeping younger workers motivated can also sometimes be a challenge. Here are some tips for motivating youth workers:

  • Recognize employee contributions in a positive way.
  • Rotate workers to different jobs to cross-train and keep interest.
  • Incentivize top performers by allowing them to work at events or festivals.
  • Consider a bonus for seasonal employees who stick around for the full season.

If you think hiring an inexperienced worker may be too much hassle, consider that sometimes, seasonal workers become full-time, which makes your investment worthwhile. Hiring youth workers for the summer rush also means you can avoid bringing on temporary workers who might leave for a full-time job.

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

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Christine Batten, PHR
Christine Batten, PHR

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

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