Vaccines are here, government shut-downs are lifted, and some people are eager to get out of the house! Businesses may be flooded this summer with customers and visitors needing to be entertained, waited on, or serviced. And as summers go, teens are ready to ditch the screens (or classrooms if they were lucky) and hit the job hunt. And we know you want to hire them. So, if you are considering hiring one of these enterprising teenagers, it’s important to be aware of the special laws that govern the employment of minors.
Federal law significantly restricts the type of work a minor under the age of 14 can perform. Once a child turns 14, there are many more positions for which they may be considered, although legal restrictions remain until a minor reaches the age of 18. Employers should recognize that the age of the minor may determine the job functions they can perform and whether they may even work in certain hazardous positions.
Under federal law, hazardous occupations include:
Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also have definitions of what is considered “hazardous” work for a minor — and therefore prohibited. Employers should ensure the work they are asking minors to perform does not fall into a “hazardous” classification under either state or federal law. In addition, employers must recognize that even if the work is not classified in one of these “hazardous” categories, additional restrictions may apply if the minor is under 16.
Each state differs in what is required for the employment of minors. In Minnesota, employers are simply required to keep some proof of an employee’s minor age as part of the payroll records. Illinois (for minors under 16) and Wisconsin (for minors under 18) require “certifications” or “permits” specific to the employer for which they will be employed prior to the minor beginning work. Typically, this means employees are extended offers of employment and those offers are conditioned on the minor providing the necessary documentation prior to the first day of work.
When school is not in session, minor employees may work within the following restrictions:
16 & 17
14 & 15
40 (max 6 days/week)
While federal law places minimum wage at $7.25/hour, for employees under the age of 20, employers could pay as little as $4.25 for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment. However, employers should also consider state law and provide the law that is most beneficial to the employee. As such, in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, employers will be paying more than $4.25/hour, but oftentimes can still pay less than federal minimum wage.
Under 18: $7.75/hour
Large employers: $8.00/hour until Aug 1; $9.00/hour after Aug 1
Small employers: $6.50/hour until Aug 1; $7.25/hour after Aug 1
In addition to understanding labor laws, employers can reduce risks by ensuring summer employees are provided the same level of safety training as other employees. Since studies show teenagers lack the same reasoning as an adult, minors should be properly supervised. Finally, ensure all managers and supervisors are aware of any hazardous work that the minor must avoid.
For more information, contact us.
Shaun is an Insurance Practice Group Leader specializing in fiduciary liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation.
Shaun is an Insurance Practice Group Leader specializing in fiduciary liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation. He has been in the insurance industry since 1985 and was previously the president and owner of a local, independent agency specializing in commercial insurance, especially in the areas of fiduciary liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation. Shaun brings his extensive knowledge of professional and fiduciary liability and workers’ compensation, and his passion for helping clients protect their financial, physical and emotional well-being.
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