Child Labor Laws (Hiring Teens) – Q&A

Although child labor laws seem fairly straight forward with hours and time restrictions, here are some FAQs that may answer some of your questions.

Can I hire my 12-yr-old niece to work the cash register at my restaurant?
Generally, youth under the age of 14 are not allowed to work except for babysitting, delivering newspapers, acting, or working for a parent’s business that is owned entirely by the parent (assuming it’s a non-hazardous business). Because she’s your niece and not your daughter, you need to wait two more years before hiring her to work the cash register.

Am I allowed to deduct the cost of a uniform from my employees’  paychecks?
Generally speaking, uniforms are business expenses that should be covered by the employer. However, the FLSA states that if an employer wants to charge employees for uniforms, they’re able to do so as long as employee wages never drop below minimum wage and that the paycheck deductions don’t cut overtime compensation. If, however, the uniform costs seem exorbitant, employees can contact the DOL wage and hour division.

How many hours per day can a 15-yr-old work in the summer?
The DOL has broken down the number of hours that teenagers can work based on whether or not it’s a school day. Teenagers ages 14-15 may work up to 8 hours per day and 40 hours a week in the summer; however, they are limited to working just 3 hours on a school day and 18 hours per school week. Once teenagers reach 16 years old, there are no limitations to the amount of hours they work per day/hour, regardless of it being a school or non-school day.  There are also mandatory break requirements pertaining to the employment of minors when they work at least a three-hour period.

Can a teenager mow lawns for my landscaping business?
The FLSA prohibits youth under the age of 16 to use any power-driven lawn mowers and trimmers for employment. However, once they reach 16, they’re allowed to mow lawns and do any other work (without any hour restrictions) as long as the work is not deemed “hazardous” by the DOL. (See the DOL list of hazardous work here.)

How late can an employee under the age of 16 work?
Youth under the age of 16 are not allowed to work before 7:00am or after 7:00pm during the school year. During the summer (June 1 – Labor Day), the evening hour is extended to 9:00pm.

Can I pay a teenager less than minimum wage?
In Utah, employees under the age of 18 may be paid a “youth training wage” of $4.25/hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days (not work days) of being employed. After 90 days, they must be bumped up to at least the regular minimum wage rate of $7.25/hour.

If you have any specific questions about employing youth, please contact us.

Brad Fagergren

Author Brad Fagergren

Brad has been a certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) since 2010. He services both local and multi-state client companies and is our in-house FMLA expert. Outside of work, you might spot Brad mentoring, chaperoning, watching, or participating in sports.

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