Recruiting can be tough in certain markets and economies. Hiring minors allows you to tap into an additional talent pool and often, they are easier to recruit because there isn’t as much competition – not all employers are interested in hiring minors with little to no experience. Additionally, some states even let you pay a lower wage for minors!
However, if you are going to hire under the age of 18, it’s important to understand the rules that you have to follow in order to comply with federal and state laws. Keep in mind, although federal law defines a minor as being under the age of 16, some states have a broader definition; meaning that 16 and 17 year-olds may also have some special rules (usually pertaining to hours of work) in your state.
Specifically, you need to know:
What the minor employee is allowed to do as far as job tasks.
What hours the employee is allowed to work.
If you need a Work Permit on file.
First, it’s important to know that there are certain job duties that minor employees are prohibited from doing in the restaurant. Below are some federal guidelines:
- Power-driven meat processing machines like, meat slicers, commercial mixers and certain power-driven bakery machines. Employees under 18 can’t operate, adjust, repair, or clean any of these machines or their disassembled parts.
- Motor Vehicles. No driving for work in any way – and this extends to 16 and 17 year-olds.
- Ovens. No baking work at all, including removing items from the oven just to place in a cooling rack.
- Unloading Trucks. Unloading goods from a truck is not allowed.
- Freezers/Coolers: Only for intermittent periods – can’t take inventory or do cleanup that will require them to be in there more than brief periods.
- Ladders: Minors can’t work on ladders or anything that is substituted for a ladder.
(this is a shortened list of the most relevant – a full listing can be found HERE.)
Second, there are restrictions on when minors can work and how many hours per day and per week they can work. Again, federal rules are listed here, but it’s important to check with your state since many of them also impose required meal and/or rest breaks:
|Hours and times of day standards for the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds:|
|-outside of school hours;
-no more than 3 hours on a school day, including Fridays;
-no more than 8 hours on a non-school day;
-no more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session;
-no more than 40 hours during a week when school is not in session;
-between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. – except between June 1 and Labor day when the evening hour is 9 p.m.
Finally, while work permits are not required at a federal level, most states do require them so you should check out your state DOL site. Usually a simple google search like “youth labor laws in Illinois” will pull up the state DOL site (beware of any other site as they may not be a credible source) or you can start HERE.
The work permit is usually obtained from the school and requires the employer to complete an application of sorts in order for the student to work for the employer. Most states require that you keep the work permit on premises at the store and be able to provide it upon request if an investigator pops in.
Generally, you are also required to keep proof of age records for each minor you employ – this is usually a birth certificate. If you have a work permit, this will usually suffice since the school has already verified the employee’s age and it is listed on the permit. Upon request, you must be able to provide a list of all minors working for you, their birthdates and, in many states, their work permit.
Employing minors can be a great way to fill night and weekend holes in your schedule, but you must educate yourself on the rules that come into play in order to avoid penalties.
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