Under federal law, there are slightly different requirements for underage workers depending on the age of the minor employed.
Hiring Minors: Best Practices and Guidelines
Updated on July 13, 2023
Hiring Minors: Best Practices and Guidelines
Hiring minors is typical in many industries, including hospitality, retail, and seasonal jobs. Hiring minors has several benefits, but it also comes with increased legal responsibility.
The legal requirements surrounding employing minors differ between states. Still, there are some general guidelines and best practices to ensure your organization and the minors it employs enjoy a safe and mutually beneficial relationship.
What Are The Benefits of Hiring Minors?
There are several advantages to hiring minors. First, depending on your business’s needs, it may actually be beneficial that most teenagers can’t work full time. If you only have a few shifts you need covered, a minor will be more likely to take a part-time job than other employees.
Though minors typically have less experience, this can save money for business owners, as they are often satisfied with lower wages than their adult colleagues.
Additionally, as they usually work part-time, you won’t need to extend health insurance or other benefits to minor workers — and most of the time, they’re still on their parent’s insurance plan.
Finally, if your business has seasonal hiring needs, building a positive relationship with young employees can help you stay staffed during busy seasons. If they enjoy working for you, they’ll probably return every summer and even during the winter holidays.
Minors and seasonal employees often bring positive energy and enthusiasm to work, which can have ripple effects throughout the organization. Though they might need more training and supervision, hiring responsible teenagers can positively impact workplace culture.
When trained properly, seasonal employees can also increase morale and workplace culture.
Here is an extended benefits list of hiring minors:
|Enthusiasm||Minors often bring a high level of enthusiasm and energy to the workplace.|
|Adaptability||Young workers tend to be adaptable and open to learning new skills.|
|Technological Proficiency||Minors often possess strong technological skills, which are valuable in today’s workplaces.|
|Fresh Perspectives||Hiring minors can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the organization.|
|Long-term Potential||By hiring minors and providing them with valuable work experience, you have the opportunity to develop talented individuals who may become long-term assets.|
|Diversity and Inclusion||Employing minors promotes diversity and inclusion within the workforce.|
|Cost-effective||Hiring minors can be cost-effective for businesses, as they may be eligible for lower wage rates or specific employment programs for young workers.|
|Succession Planning||Hiring minors establishes a pipeline for future talent, ensuring a smooth transition and continuity within the organization.|
|Community Engagement||Hiring local minors demonstrates a commitment to the community and enhances the brand reputation as a responsible employer.|
|Mentorship Opportunities||Hiring minors provides opportunities for experienced employees to act as mentors, fostering leadership skills and a positive work culture.|
Hiring Minors: Best Practices and Guidelines
Though hiring minors can have a positive impact on your organization, they typically require a bit more oversight and training. From legal requirements to maintaining a safe workplace environment, this guide has you covered with everything you’ll need to know.
1. Understanding Legal Requirements
Employers must adhere to federal and state laws to ensure legal compliance. Laws vary between states, so this article focuses primarily on federal regulations for hiring minors. Be sure to research the laws for your particular state as well, as state laws are often more specific.
The federal minimum employment age is 14 years old. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lays out all governmental provisions for hiring minors, but again, it’s critical to also check your state’s laws.
In non-agricultural work, minors 14-15 years old are limited to working 18 hours a week between 7 AM and 7 PM during school sessions and 40 hours during school breaks. Children under 16 may only work for agricultural work when school is not in session.
16- and 17-year-olds can work unlimited hours as long as they are not in a hazardous position. Once employees turn 18, they are no longer considered minors and can hold any position with unlimited hours.
Many states require minors to obtain a work permit or an age certificate before they can begin work, which protects employers from prosecution by verifying their eligibility to work.
2. Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment
Especially when employing minors, providing a safe workplace is extremely important.
Minors often lack the experience and training older workers have, so be sure to provide adequate supervision and training.
Ensure all employees are trained on anti-discrimination and harassment policies and strictly uphold these standards. Additionally, assign reasonable expectations for your minor employees.
You can set them up for success by assigning age-appropriate tasks and responsibilities.
Finally, a healthy work environment for minors will always support them in prioritizing their education over work.
Of course, this does not justify calling out last minute or being irresponsible, but be willing to work around their school schedule. For example, consider taking them off the schedule the week before finals to allow adequate time to study.
3. Screening and Selection Process
When hiring a minor, verifying their age is a critical first step. Communicate to ensure you’re on the same page regarding when and how much they are legally permitted to work.
On top of regular screening questions, assess the candidate’s experience and ability to complete the required tasks for employment. If you are unsure about their capableness to do the job, conducting a reference interview might be a critical next step in the hiring process.
If you are unsure if they have adequate transportation, including additional screening questions to ensure they are able to come to work is a logical next step.
4. Supervision and Monitoring
Once a minor employee is onboarded, assign them a designated supervisor to provide ongoing guidance and mentorship.
Ensure their continued safety, satisfaction, and professional development by regularly reviewing and assessing performance and encouraging them to come to you if they need help or clarification.
Less experienced employees may want to avoid admitting to their mistakes, so ensuring they feel safe to be honest will help them improve faster and avoid mistakes from spiraling into something larger.
5. Ensuring Compliance and Documentation
Since employing minors comes with a few additional legal requirements, maintaining accurate employment records is especially important. Keep proper documentation of work permits and consent forms, and stay informed about labor law and regulations changes.
If you’re uncertain about your legal obligations, consult a legal expert to ensure compliance.
Minors can bring fun, enthusiasm, and energy to your workplace and help you keep your organization fully staffed during busy months. Still, if you hire minors, be prepared to accommodate their school and family obligations, and part-time schedules.
Pay attention to legal requirements and child labor law at both a federal and state level, and encourage open communication to facilitate a positive environment for everyone involved.
You might be their first professional experience, so providing a positive and nurturing work experience can go a long way in encouraging their professional development. Plus, if they enjoy their experience, they’ll likely stick around!
Hiring Minors FAQs
Work permit procedures differ among jurisdictions. Typically, you would need to contact the appropriate government department or agency responsible for issuing work permits for minors and follow their application process. In some states, minors can obtain permits from their high school.
In most cases, employment law requires parental consent before hiring a minor. States that require a work permit automate this process by requiring parental consent in order to obtain the permit. Even if it’s not legally required, it’s recommended to involve the parents or legal guardians in the hiring process and obtain their written permission to ensure the minor can follow through on their commitment.
Labor laws often restrict the tasks that minors can perform. Certain hazardous or dangerous activities may be prohibited by an age restriction. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the tasks assigned to minors are appropriate for their age and abilities. Check your state’s child labor law to ensure you comply with all requirements. Additionally, federal law prohibits child labor from: storing or manufacturing explosives, driving or working on cars, mining, logging, firefighting, slaughtering poultry, operating dangerous machinery, trenching, and all jobs that might expose them to radioactive substances.
Minimum wage laws typically apply to all employees, including minors. However, there may be specific provisions for young workers, such as lower minimum wage rates for certain age groups. Still, it’s advisable to offer minimum wage to young employees, as this will help you attract more candidates.
It is crucial to provide a safe and supportive workplace for minors and comply will appropriate labor standards. This includes implementing safety protocols, proper supervision, training, and maintaining age-appropriate work conditions. Though important for all employees, maintaining safe working conditions is especially important for minors as they may not have the experience to recognize harassment or unsafe conditions themselves.
The regulations regarding the full-time employment of minors during school vacations may vary by state law jurisdiction. Therefore, it is essential to check the specific laws and obtain the necessary approvals. In most states, minors can work an eight-hour labor day and 40-hour work weeks during periods when school is not in session.
There are typically restrictions on the number of hours minors can work, both on a daily and weekly basis. Therefore, best practices involve complying with these limitations and ensuring minors are not working excessive hours. Be sure to communicate with them about their high school responsibilities, extracurricular activities, any family trips, or times of academic stress to prevent unexpected absences.
If you have any concerns about the treatment or well-being of a minor employee, you should take immediate action. This may involve reporting the situation to the appropriate authorities, providing support to the minor, or contacting their parents or guardians.