If you run a business that hires minors or teens to work for you, it’s important that you understand the rules in place for your company under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. This act is intended to protect the rights of teens and minors even as they enter the workforce and develop good work ethic. Under the FLSA, teens and minors are protected from working in an environment that may be damaging to their well-being or health, and their educational opportunities must be preserved – meaning they can’t be required to work during school hours.
Exemptions Under the FLSA
There are several situations where exemptions may be made for minors or teens. Companies are exempt from these regulations in the following situations:
- The minor or teen is working for a company solely owned by their legal guardians or parents (this exemption only applies in certain situations, NOT in hazardous jobs like mining or manufacturing).
- The teen or minor is employed as an actor or performed in radio, TV, theater or film.
- The individual is delivering newspapers.
- The minor or teen works at home using evergreens of natural holly to make wreaths.
- The teen or minor works in an agricultural position under the direction of the parents.
Even with these exemptions, teens must be protected from working in hazardous or harmful situations, and work can only be performed during certain hours of the day. In rare situations, teens 14-15 years old may be allowed to work, particularly in agricultural jobs or school-approved career or study programs.
Minimum Wage for Youth and Teens
The requirements for pay when employing minors or teens are slightly different than those for an adult. If an individual is under 20, the employer is allowed to pay a specific minimum wage of $4.25 an hour during the probationary 90-day period. If the minor turns 20 during this probationary period, the pay must be raised to the legal minimum wage for an adult.
Additionally, state laws may apply in this situation. Federal laws are in place to govern the minimum wage, but your state may have specific situations that require more research. Before hiring a minor or teen, it’s recommended that you consult your attorney or research state laws in depth to determine what you are required to pay.
Regulations for Young Ages
In certain situations, an individual under the age of 14 may be hired to do the following:
- Casual baby sitting
- Newspaper delivery
- Performing or acting in radio, TV or theater
- Working for a company solely owned by parents
- Homeworker gathering greens
Those who are 14-15 years of age can be employed under the following conditions:
- Less than eight hours on a day with no school
- All shifts must be before or after school hours
- Less than 18 hours a week during the school year
- Less than 40 hours each week when school is out
- Less than 3 hours on a day when school is held
These individuals may hold jobs stocking shelves, doing limited kitchen work, performing office duties, or cleaning, or work in industries such as retail or food service, to name a few. With the right training and certification, 15-year-old teens may also work as instructors or lifeguards at swimming pools.Those who are 16-17 years old are not limited in how many hours they can work but are often limited in the type of work they can do. They may not perform any job defined as hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.Once an individual reaches the age of 18, he or she is no longer under the limitations of the FLSA and is able to work as many hours in any type of job as desired.
Know Your State Laws
These are the federal laws regarding hiring minors and teens, but states also have laws governing how individuals must be paid while under your employment. While knowing the federal regulations is important, so is understanding your state laws before you hire any minor or teen to work for your company. Click to view more Human Resources
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.