Kids are a great hiring pool for small business owners looking for some seasonal support during the summer months.
These able-bodied, highly trainable teen dynamos can give your business a kickstart, as long as you remember these five legal guidelines for hiring kids in summer:
1. The Minimum Hiring Age is 14.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) governs any child labor in the country. The Department of Labor, which enforces the FSLA, states that generally, children under 14 cannot be hired by your business.
Some exceptions include hiring children for:
- Agricultural work,
- Newspaper routes,
- TV and movie roles, and
- Parent-owned business roles.
2. State Law Can Trump Federal Law.
Although the FSLA sets a baseline for minimum age and hour requirements for children, if state laws are more demanding, then your business must comply with those.
Many states, like Pennsylvania, require parental consent forms for any child under 16, which acknowledges what tasks your business will be assigning their child.
3. Don't Let Teens Perform Dangerous Tasks.
Federal regulations prohibit children under 18 from working on certain tasks or in certain industries that are considered hazardous, even if it's your family business.
Some common hazardous jobs which cannot be performed by kids include:
- Working in any way with explosives;
- Mining (contrary to parental threats, kids cannot work at a salt mine); and
- Demolition crews.
4. Work Permits May Be Required.
States like California and New York require special permits depending on the age of the child hired and the nature of your business.
So if you want to hire a new 12-year-old paperboy -- one that can dress up in a newsy hat and yell "Extra! Extra!" in New York -- make sure that you have a valid Newspaper Carrier Permit on file.
5. Careful About Using Unpaid Interns.
The growing trend in small business is to hire a teen summer employee as an unpaid intern. But beware: You cannot use these internships as a free substitute for regular employees.
If you have an unpaid child intern, their jobs must:
- Be similar to educational training,
- Not primarily benefit the employer,
- Not displace any paid employees, and
- Disclose that the job is unpaid.
Hiring a kid for the summer is a great way to not only educate them, but also to spread goodwill about your business and profession. If you have more legal questions regarding your specific situation, it may be best to contact an experienced employment lawyer near you.
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