When summer rolls around, droves of eager teenagers enter the workforce looking for seasonal employment. Tapping this group of workers may be a viable way for your company to meet fluctuating business needs as well as establish a pipeline of workers for your entry-level positions. However, if you employ an individual under the age of 18, be aware that strict child labor laws govern the employment of teenagers.
Understanding child labor laws
Child labor is regulated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Hawaii Child Labor Law—both of which aim to protect the health, well-being, and educational opportunities of teenagers in the workforce.
These provisions generally apply to the employment of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. There are exceptions for working minors under the age of 14, though many of those provisions pertain to family businesses, agricultural work, and theatrical employment.
Checklist for hiring teenagers
Whether teenagers are the core of your workforce or you’re helping out your teenage nephew with a summer job at your company, run through this quick checklist before you hire any teenager to your team.
Verify that a teenager is legally allowed to perform duties of the position
Child labor laws prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from working in occupations declared as hazardous. Generally, this includes work like driving a motor vehicle, serving as an outside helper on a motor vehicle, operating various power-driven tools or equipment, and construction or demolition related work.
Review the list of occupations deemed hazardous by the FLSA (see Subpart C & E) and list of occupations deemed hazardous by Hawaii law (see Subchapter 4) before you decide to bring a teenager on to your team.
Ensure the teenager has the necessary work permit
Under Hawaii law, teenagers are required to obtain a child labor certificate or work permit. Employers should not employ anyone under the age of 18 without one. There are two different types of certificates, depending on the teenager’s age:
- Certificate of Employment. This is required for teenagers who are 14 and 15 years old. An employer must complete and sign the application form in order for the certificate to be issued. You must have the Certificate of Employment (or the temporary authorization slip) before the teenager can begin work.
- Certificate of Age. Teenagers 16 and 17 years old must present a Certificate of Age along with an acceptable proof of age document to the employer at the time of hire. Employers must:
- Verify the name and birth date on the Certificate of Age using the proof of age document;
- Record the Certificate of Age number and;
- Return both documents back to the teenager who can use the certificate until they turn 18 years of age.
Monitor the number of hours and time of day the teenager works
Federal and state law set caps on the number of hours and the time of day a teenager under the age of 16 can work. This requires that employers pay close attention to the scheduling of their teenage workers in order to comply with the following work hour restrictions:
- On school days, teenagers under the age of 16 can work no more than 3 hours per day and 18 hours per week. Work hours must be between 7:00am and 7:00pm (including the day before a school day).
- On non-school days, teenagers under the age of 16 can work no more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. Work hours must be between 6:00am and 9:00pm (including the day before a non-school day).
- Teenagers under the age of 16 are prohibited from working more than 6 consecutive days and 5 consecutive hours without a 30 minute break.
There are no hour restrictions on teenagers who are 16 or 17 years old, unless the teenager is required to be in school.
The added layer of compliance that comes with hiring a teenager may be more than your business has time for. Let simplicityHR handle your HR paperwork woes. We can assist with gathering necessary documents during employee orientation and provide you guidance on any questions that come up. Give one of our HR Consultants a call at (808) 791-4900 or fill out our online contact form.