There are clear, specific rules for hiring minors that need to be adhered to. Every state has child labor acts, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) covers minor employees as well. This section will focus on the FLSA but you are cautioned to check the laws in the state as well because many states, including Pennsylvania have work permit requirements. The FLSA states:
- Children under 14 generally cannot be employed. Exceptions include certain jobs such as working for a parent or as a newspaper carrier.
- Minors ages 14 to 15 are generally permitted to work a limited number of hours outside of school time in nonhazardous jobs. When school is in session, work hours are limited to three hours per day and 18 hours per week. Exceptions exist during holidays and school breaks when children may work as many as eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, but only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.
- Teens ages 16 to 17 are not restricted from working during school hours but are subject to limits on the number of hours worked, with exceptions for agricultural employment and for student learners and apprentices.
- Children under 18 may not work in certain hazardous occupations. Among these occupations are excavation, manufacturing explosives, mining and operating many types of power-driven equipment.
You may be thinking that there are no current minor-hiring issues but you would be wrong. On April 20, 2021, the DoL announced in a press release a case against the Pennsylvania Youth Club and its owners because it “employed at-risk teens to peddle candy and other items door-to-door” which allegedly violated the federal child labor laws. Excerpted from the press release:
The actions follow an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found the organization hired 17 minors, some as young as 12 years old, to work illegally as door-to-door salespersons. The employer also permitted teens to work during prohibited work hours, and failed to maintain proper records, both FLSA violations. Teens as young as 12 and 13 years old sold products through door-to-door sales, some working as late as 10 p.m. Federal law requires that teens must be at least 16 years old to be employed for door-to-door sales, and limits the number of hours those under 16 years old may work.
“Protecting our youngest workers continues to be a top priority for the Wage and Hour Division,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director James Cain, in Philadelphia. “Child labor laws ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health, well-being or educational opportunities. Employers of minors have a responsibility to understand their obligations under the law, and to comply with those requirements. This case should serve as notice to other employers who may be employing minors in similar circumstances.”
To understand hiring minor employees by farms, see: Ben Forbes, “The Farmer’s Guide to Minor Employees.”