Hiring Summer Help? Know the Rules

"Once again, as summer approaches, teen students are looking for summer jobs. This provides great opportunities for both the student employee and the employer, but there are pitfalls to avoid relating to hours of work.

Both federal and state statutes apply to youth workers (those aged 14 through 17), with the more protective taking precedence. There are no restrictions on the work of those who are 18 or older, and, only a few types of work are permitted at all for youths who have not yet reached 14...

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits the employment of youths in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health and well-being, and it identifies certain hazardous occupations which are too dangerous for those under age 18 to perform. Youth 16 and 17 may perform any job not declared hazardous, without federal restriction on the total number of hours they may work per day or week, or when those
hours may be worked.

Occupations for youths under 16 are further restricted; they may work only in certain nonmanufacturing, nonmining, nonhazardous jobs, with limits on total hours and times to work. During nonschool weeks, they may work eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, but they may not begin work before 7 A.M. From June 1 to Labor Day they may work until 9:00 P.M. Limits are different for school weeks.)

Detailed records of birth date, daily starting and quitting times, and daily and weekly hours worked must be kept. There are civil money penalties for violations of the child labor provisions of the FLSA.

Many states also have child labor laws...Pennsylvania employers with youth workers this summer [must]: obtain employment certificate from the student’s school district; [allow] no more than eight hours of work per day or six days of work per week; always have a documented 30-minute meal break at or before five consecutive hours of work. Also, for workers ages 14 and 15, absolutely no work is permitted before 7:00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M., and no more than 40 hours per week. Keep good records to prove compliance..."

From an updated version of this article from Pittsburgh attorneys, Polito & Smock.

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