Hiring Minors: The Legal Principles
One of the most common questions that business owners have is whether it is legal to hire teenagers. Minors can provide valuable labor, more energy, and some times dependability especially during the summers when school ins not in session, yet hiring minors often come with additional rules and regulations. The industrial revolution and the rise of big business and unions helped to shape some of the most basic laws regarding child labor today. The first child labor law in 1916 known as the Keating Owen Act of 1916, helped protect minors from harsh factory conditions. Before the act minors constantly were injured, were over worked, or died as a result of the hazardous conditions within the factories. Many could also not attend school because they were forced to work to assist their families financially. Congress found that when minors solely work without regulations then their mental and physical health are gravely at risk and such work may actually be a deprivation of their development, freedom, and education. Today the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) regulates the working requirements (wage, hours worked, safety) for minors or those under the age of 18. The rules can vary depending on the age of the minor. Under the FLSA, 14 years old is the minimum age a minor must be before they can legally work. Even then their hours are restricted until they turn 16.
Minors are also prohibited from working in anything related to what the government considers a hazardous condition. A hazardous condition is exactly how it sounds, basically anything dangerous or anything that could have the potential of causing sever harm to a minor or someone that is not experienced. A hazardous condition is something like mining, driving heavy equipment, things dealing with chemicals etc. There are also exceptions such as if the minor is working for their parents. It is also important to note that each state also has its own version of FLSA If your state law conflicts with the FLSA than whichever law protects the minor more is the one that is applicable. Usually, the state law will be more strict than the federal law. FLSA also does not apply to hiring minors that are actors or deliver newspapers. It is of vital importance that each business owner refers to the rules of their state before choosing to hire a teenager.
Hiring Minors: Restrictions
Minors are into two categories based on age. (14-15 and 16-17). The younger the minor the heavier the restrictions.
Hiring Minors Age 14-15
- Most restrictions
- Only can work from 7 am – 7 pm
- Only can work 3 hours per day
- 18 maximum hours of work per week
- Workers under 15 can not work for their parents
Hiring Minors Age 16-17:
- No restrictions on hours per day
- No restrictions on days per week