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School's Out -- Employ Carefully

Today my kids are at home enjoying their first day of summer vacation.  When I was a teenager, one first-day-of-summer-vacation ritual was repeatedly blasting the song "School's Out" by Alice Cooper for the enjoyment of everyone in town (from a boombox resting on the handlebars of a BMX bike in seventh grade, moving on to the woofers in the trunk of my friend's candy apple red '78 Chevy Nova by the time we were sophomores).  Another, more-constructive rite of summer for many teenagers is working a part-time job.  If your company employs workers under 18, make sure it complies with the sometimes-tricky child labor laws.

Fourteen is the minimum age for most non-agricultural work.  However, youth under 14 may deliver newspapers; perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; and work in businesses owned by their parents (except in manufacturing, mining, or hazardous jobs). 

Youth 14- and 15-years-old may work outside school hours in certain jobs approved by the Department of Labor, subject to time and hour restrictions.  For example, they cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day or 18 hours in a school week, or more than 8 hours on a non-school day or 40 hours in a non-school week.  And they may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except they may work until 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.  New regulations that went into effect last summer allow 14- and 15-year-olds to hold jobs not only in the retail, foodservice, and gasoline service industries (as before), but also perform office and clerical work, including in the advertising, banking, and information technology industries; perform work of an intellectual or artistic nature, including computer programming, drawing, teaching, and singing; work as a lifeguard at traditional swimming pools (15-year-olds only); and perform certain other specified jobs.

Youth who are 16 and 17 may work in most non-hazardous jobs.  The Department of Labor has declared certain types of occupations and activities, such as excavation, driving, roofing, and operating power-driven equipment, to be hazardous.  The 2010 regulations do allow 16- and 17-year-olds to operate power-driven pizza dough rollers and portable countertop food mixers under certain conditions.

These are the general rules.  There are a number of requirements that apply only to particular types of jobs (such as agricultural work or operating motor vehicles), and there are also many exceptions to the general rules.  So check with your lawyer if you have questions about the employment of minors. 


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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