Hiring and Employing Teenagers
Do you remember your first job? No, not chores around the house, but your first real job, with a real paycheck? This summer will be a rite of passage for a whole new generation of teenagers who will be starting their very first real job. In fact, there could be millions of teens joining the workforce this summer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016 the number of young people in the workforce went from 1.9 million to 20.5 million between April and July1. Employing teenagers becomes more of an option during the summer months as a variety of seasonal positions open, and there are fewer restrictions on the hours that teens can work when school isn't in session.
While employing teenagers can be a rewarding experience, there are a few unique rules to follow and some best practices to make sure that the experience goes well for both the employee and the employer.
Get their working papers
Employers must have the original working paper documentation from their employee to serve as proof of their eligibility to work. The employee is responsible for obtaining this through their school and providing the employer with the original document before they start working. An employer cannot accept a copy. Working papers should be returned to the employee when the job ends. Working papers are color coded for age as follows:
If an employee turns 16 during their employment they must obtain updated documents.
Know the limits on what job duties they can and cannot do
In accordance with federal and state employment regulations, there are numerous prohibited jobs for minors depending on the age of the worker and the kind of job to be performed. These rules can vary by state or municipality so it's important to check the laws where you operate. (For example, minors are not allowed to perform construction or manufacturing work, or operate heavy machinery.)
Understand when they can and cannot work
Teenage workers who are still minors have limitations on the hours that they can work (see table.)
Workers who are 16-17 year olds can work past 10 pm during the school year with their parent's and educational authorities’ permission, by completing a parental consent form. Even with parental consent they may not work past 12 am and they cannot exceed the 28 weekly maximum hours. Employers must retain the consent form.
Follow all applicable wage and hour laws
Just because an employee is a minor does not mean there are any exceptions to the minimum wage or to their status as either exempt or non-exempt (the possible exception being classified as interns, but see the May 16, 2017 e-news on internships for more information).
Best practices for employing teenagers
If your organization employs teenagers and you have questions about any of these issues call the HR One Helpline at 1(800) 457-8829.
1 Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary https://www.bls.gov/news.release/youth.nr0.htm