FLSA regulations govern child labor in the U.S. Many employers hire teens for unskilled jobs in retail and food service, and these workers can be a valuable asset. They are generally in good health; many are excited to be working at their first job. They can get by with a smaller paycheck since Mom and Dad are usually still providing housing and other necessities.
So, hiring teen workers is often a win-win for employers and kids. However, there are lots of extra rules you have to follow to stay out of trouble – especially if you hire teens younger than 16. The rules for 14-15 year olds prohibit:
- Starting work before 7:00 AM
- Working past 7:00 PM (except between June 1 and Labor Day when they can work until 9)
- Exceeding 3 hours on a school day or 18 in a school week
- Exceeding 8 hours on a non-school day or 40 hours per week
The fine for failing to adhere to these laws is up to $11,000 per violation. You should ensure that your onboarding process can include specific notifications and signed acknowledgements that your minor employees know and understand the FLSA rules. Enforcing them is still your job. After all, you are the grownup in this business relationship!
Supervision is a Necessity
The 2009 GINA FLSA amendment increased the penalty for violations resulting in the serious injury or death of a minor worker. The fine can now be up to $50,000. This applies to all employees under the age of 18. Your teen workers need to be properly trained and closely supervised when they will be performing any task that could be even remotely dangerous.
Take steps to prevent injury by instituting a mentoring program that pairs adult coworkers and supervisors with teens to help keep them safe on the job. You can make this part of your acculturation onboarding for minors.