With summer heating up and school out for the next few months, teens are looking for a job, spare cash, and a possible future career. You’d be smart to tap into this new workforce while you can, but hiring minors isn’t as easy as hiring adults. Before hiring an employee under the age of 18, you’ll need to make sure you are in compliance with both federal and state Child Labor Laws. We’ll get into what you need to know to hire teens this summer and keep them coming back year after year.
Federal Laws for Hiring Minors
Can you hire someone under 18 to work for you? Absolutely! The US Department of Labor outlines federal requirements for hiring employees in the United States. For minors, age-specific laws for hiring are covered in the Fair Labor and Standards Act, also called the FLSA. By law, minors cannot work in hazardous conditions and have special requirements for working in agricultural industries.
You will also need to check your state’s labor laws for minors because they may be different than what’s covered in the FLSA. For example, Pennsylvania requires all businesses hiring minors to carry Child Protection Clearances, which are a set of three clearances or permits the business must file.
Here’s a quick run-down of federal requirements for hiring minors:
- Minors under the age of 14 can only work as newspaper deliverers, casual babysitters, actors or performers, evergreen gatherers or wreath makers, or employees of their parents, which can’t include jobs in mining, manufacturing, or other hazardous industries.
- Minors between the ages of 14‒15 can work for 8 hours a day, with a maximum total of 40 hours per week, in many, but not all, non-manufacturing, non-hazardous jobs, including retail work, creative or intellectual property work, delivery work, and more. For a full list, check the Department of Labor website. Teens between these ages can’t work between 7:00 AM‒9:00 PM June 1 through Labor Day. You must also pay them the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or the applicable state minimum wage.
- Minors between the ages of 16‒17 can work any non-hazardous job for an unlimited amount of hours. In non-agricultural work, they must be paid time and one-half at their regular rate for hours worked after 40 hours in a 7-day workweek.
What is the youngest age a person can be employed in the US?
The FLSA sets the minimum work age as 14 for most non-agricultural work. Your state may have another minimum age, in which case, you follow the state minimum age law. For example, if you live in New Jersey where the minimum work age is 16, that is the law you must follow.
What are the rules for hiring minors in the agricultural industry?
The FLSA has separate rules regarding minors working in agriculture. The general federal rules for hiring minors in agriculture are:
- Minors aged 12 and up can work on farms with parental consent or if the parent works on the farm.
- Minors under 12 can also work on farms that are exempt from the Federal minimum wage provision.
- Proof of age is not required.
Many states also have their own child labor laws for agricultural employment, such as requiring employment certificates, setting a maximum number of hours minors can work, and more.
What work permits do minors need?
The FLSA does not require any work permits for minors on the federal level, but certain states do require work permits for minors. A work permit is a way of ensuring the minor is legally able and physically capable to work within the state. Work permits usually include an employment certificate and an age certificate. You’ll need to check your state’s laws for the work permit requirements and applications before hiring minors for the summer. The US Department of Labor offers a state list of work permits required.
3 Tips for Hiring Teens for the Summer
Hiring minors is a bit different than hiring adults. Most underage would-be employees don’t use Indeed or LinkedIn to search for jobs (unless they’re exceptionally entrepreneurial). That means you’ll need to change how you recruit and keep your employees throughout the summer. Here are some tips:
1. Clearly outline job duties and pay
When you draft up your job listing, make sure you clearly outline the job responsibilities, hours, and wage. Nothing’s more frustrating than finding a job posting that doesn’t clearly tell you what the job entails or how much it pays. To get applicants in, make your job posting as clear and detailed as possible. Give the kids something to think and dream about. And to keep them loyal, don’t saddle them with duties that weren’t in the job description.
2. Post job openings on social media
Most teens won’t have job profiles on career websites, but they will have social media profiles they spend their time sharing, scrolling, and engaging on. Post your job openings on social media with catchy graphics to pull teens in. Or create a social media page for your business to get more attention on your jobs and services.
3. Leverage your company’s culture
If you want teens to choose your company as the place to work this summer, you’ll need to promote your company’s culture to show them what you’re all about. Share information about your company culture in your job posting and on your socials. Having an inclusive, encouraging, and fun company culture will pull teens in, make them stay, and have them coming back summer after summer.
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