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Hiring Teenagers, Work Permits and Your Business

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 09, 2010 12:49 PM

The traditional summer season of hiring teenages is already upon us. Younger workers can be a great addition to a business - just imagine harnessing all that youthful energy. If small business owners have not finished their summer hiring or are looking to hire for after-school during the fall, there are special hiring considerations that can apply to minors.

Federal law does not require employers to have minor work permits for employees under 18 years of age. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act provides some general rules that must be followed by employers hiring minors. With few exceptions (such as newspaper delivery), children under 14 years of age may not be employed. Children under the age of 16 may only work in nonhazardous jobs, and their hours of work are limited. There are additional hour limitations that apply during the school term. Outside the school term, children under 16 may work up to eight hours a day and forty hours a week. Older minor employees, those who are 16 and 17, are not limited in the number of hours they may work. Minors may not work in hazardous jobs.

Many states have additional regulations such as requiring work permits and and proof of age. States laws vary, so be sure to check with the appropriate agency in your state before hiring a minor, even for work while school is not in session. Most states have Departments of Labor with useful websites; for example, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, the New York State Department of Labor, or the California Department of Industrial Relations, to name but three.

In a state like California which has strong child labor regulations, work permits for those under 18 are required. There are also additional age, wage and hour restrictions. As with other workers, all safety requirements and OSHA regulations must be met. As appropriate to California, minors hired in the entertainment industry have a different set of regulations set by the state.

It may be a breath of fresh air to have a younger employee join your business. Just be sure to make sure you are in compliance with all relevant state regulations. This will ensure a positive experience for you and for the newer members of the work force you might employ.

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