Prevent your company from child labor law violations – FLSA
At the conclusion of a long school year, when students have completed their final exams, the Employment Policy Foundation estimates that over 60% of teenagers, between the ages of 16-19, will look for summer employment.
This equates to over 8 million new employees entering the workforce. For many employers, youth employment provides a relatively simple and cost effective resource that will help fill seasonal staffing needs.
However, what appears to be a mutually beneficial relationship could actually create undo liability for the employer. Both the federal government and the states legislators enforce regulations aimed at protecting minors from hazardous occupations and minimizing the disruption of schoolwork. The federal government enforces child labor provisions through the Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the states through various youth employment laws. Penalties for child labor violations range from $100 to $10,000 per occurrence, based on the severity of the violation. As such, it is imperative to know the laws before hiring a minor.
Federal v. State
It is not uncommon for an employer to be faced with contradicting regulations. For example, many states allow minors, 16 years and younger, to work until 10:00pm during the summertime. Conversely, the FLSA only allows for work until 9:00pm (7:00pm during the school year). So what to do? Follow the law that is most limiting. Where state laws are stricter than the federal FLSA, the state laws should be applied.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates. Most states, however, do require them for workers of a certain age. The purpose of these certificates is to protect the employer from prosecution for employing an under-aged worker. The possession of an age certificate constitutes a good faith effort to comply with the minimum age requirements. Generally, work permits can be obtained through the student’s school board or the state labor department. For specific requirements, as they apply to your state, please see the adjoining chart.
Allowable Job Duties
The employment of minors 14 – 15 years of age is severely limited by both state and federal law. Any job for a child under 16 is considered “oppressive” if it is the type of job that is typically restricted to older children. In addition, a job held by a 14 -15 year old must not interfere with school hours or the child’s well-being. The Department of Labor regulations do allow for certain non-hazardous jobs in the following types of businesses, primarily in office and sales jobs: retail establishments; movie theater, offices, fast food; newspaper delivery, entertainment and employment exclusively for a business owned by their parents. However, the states may also restrict the allowable jobs further.
Hours of Work and Rest Periods
In addition to the restricted job duties, 14 and 15 year olds are regulated in the hours they may work and the number and frequency of rest periods. These minors may work: no more than 18 hours per week during the school year; no more than 3 hours on a school day; no more than 8 hours on a non-school day and no more than 40 hours per week during non school weeks. Also, the work must be performed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except from June 1 to Labor Day, when the evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.
Most states also require meal and rest periods periodically throughout the shift. They range from Maine and Massachusetts which require a 30 minute break after six hours of work to Washington which requires a 10 minute break every two hours plus an additional 30 minute meal after 4 fours of work.
Under the FLSA, 16 and 17 year-olds may be employed for unlimited hours in occupations other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Several States do restrict the number of hours and times of day that this age group may be employed.
As you can see from the examples above, there are many complex issues surrounding the employment of minors. Be sure to check with the Department of Labor or our Human Resource Department for additional regulations as they apply to your business and state.
|State||Work Permit or Age Certificate Provision|
|Colorado||Under 16 to work on school days during school hours|
|Hawaii||Required for minors 14 and 15. Age certificates required for minors 16 and 17.|
|Kentucky||Proof of age required at job location|
|Minnesota||Under 16 during school term|
|Mississippi||Under 16 & parent affidavit|
|Missouri||Under 16 during school term|
|New Hampshire||Under 16|
|New Jersey||Under 18|
|New Mexico||Under 16|
|New York||Under 18|
|North Carolina||Under 18|
|North Dakota||Under 16|
|Puerto Rico||Under 18.|
|Rhode Island||Under 16.|
|South Carolina||No provision.|
|South Dakota||No provision.|
|Tennessee||Proof of age required at job location|
|Utah||Not required, but schools can supply age certificates.|
|West Virginia||Under 16.|
|Wyoming||Proof of age required at job location|
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