According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment typically rises for 16- to 19-year-olds during June, July, and August. Employers considering hiring minors must understand the federal and state laws as they relate to the employment of minors.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) imposes federal restrictions on the employment of children and teens under the age of 18. See the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) FLSA Child Labor Provisions.
Some of these provisions include the following:
- Children under 14 generally cannot be employed. Exceptions include specific jobs such as working for a parent, a newspaper carrier or babysitting on a casual basis.
- Minors ages 14 to 15 are generally permitted to work a limited number of hours outside of school hours in nonhazardous jobs. When school is in session, work hours are limited to three hours per day and 18 hours per week. According to www.shrm.org, exceptions exist during holidays, and school breaks when children may work as many as eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, but only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., or when hours are extended from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from June 1st through Labor Day.
- Teens ages 16 to 17 may work unlimited hours. Any job that has not been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor is permissible for 16- and 17-year-olds. There are different rules for 16 and 17-year-olds working in agriculture.
- Children under 18 may not work in certain hazardous occupations. Among these occupations are excavation, coal mining, manufacturing explosives, and operating many types of power-driven equipment, and roofing.
See also: An Overview of Child Labor Laws
State Child Labor Laws also regulate the employment of young workers. In situations where both the FLSA child labor provisions and state child labor laws apply, the higher minimum standard must be obeyed.
Under the FLSA, an employer is permitted to pay employees under age 20 a minimum wage equal to $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment if the youth’s employment does not displace other workers. Guidance on the federal youth minimum wage can be found at https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs32.pdf
For California, there are both occupational restrictions and hour restrictions for teenage workers that employers need to be aware of. The Employment of Minors Summary Chart, from the CA Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE), provides detailed information on this topic for the different age ranges (12-13, 14-15, 16-17). The chart also lists the restricted occupations for each age bracket.
More information about employing minors can be found at: