Tap into the passion of teenage employees this summer


It wouldn’t surprise me if many who read this blog worked at a marina, boat club or dealership during summer vacation when you were in high school. I did, and so did my son and one of my daughters. Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of regulations written from the Fair Labor Standards Act that either my employer or I had to be concerned about. It was just a great summer job in simpler times.

But it’s not so simple today. As most schools are just letting out for summer and kids are starting summer jobs as dock boys, boat washers or similar duties, it’s important that dealers be aware of new employment requirements that come with hiring teens. Out of the Fair Labor Standards Act were written specific requirements for employers of teenagers when school is not in session, notes attorney Jennifer K. Halford, who practices business law and teaches entrepreneurial law at Cal State University at Chico. Writing in www.Findlaw.com, Halford warns: “Violating these provisions can result in monetary fines and penalties for your business.”

Halford is correct in saying it’s a good deal hiring teens for summer jobs because it’s a great source of inexpensive, energetic employees. But she offers these considerations every business owner should be aware of when hiring teens:

1. Typically, the minimum age for employment is 14 for non-agricultural work. Age dictates the number of hours teens can work under the fair labor law. Younger workers have more restrictions on the types of jobs they can perform, as well as the number of hours. Both the fair labor law and state labor laws usually divide minors into two categories: 14-15 years old and 16-17 years old.

2. The 14-15-year-olds are usually limited to eight hours a day, with a maximum 40 hours per week during the summer when school is not in session. However, when school is in session, 14- and 15-year-olds can only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (extended to 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day), and only three hours per day and 18 hours per week. (Notably, exemptions apply when a teen’s parents own and operate the business.) Teenagers 16-17 are not usually restricted on hours, albeit all minors under 18 are always prohibited from working a hazardous job.

3. While the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the fair labor law permits a lower hourly wage of $4.25 for employees under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days on the job. An important caution here: your state laws may require a higher wage from the start. Check it out.

4. Child labor laws vary from state to state as well as in the type of job. For example, some states require a work permit be obtained for any employee under the age of 18. Others states have additional age, wage or hour restrictions. The burden is on you as an employer under your state’s child labor laws.

5. Make certain your under-18 teen summer employees are not exposed to or perform any work declared hazardous by the Department of Labor. Some examples include: driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper on motor vehicles; operating power-driven hoisting equipment; using woodworking machines and circular or band saws; no chain saws or abrasive cutting discs, among a variety of others.

6. You might not think about it, but safety is a big-time concern. As an employer of a teen(s), you should understand how to provide a safe working environment. “Communicating risks to teenage employees is different than communicating with adult employees,” says Halford. “Provide safety training to make sure they understand workplace risks and hazards and what to do if they are injured on the job.

And make sure you comply with all OSHA requirements,” she adds.

Finally, teenage employees can be energized workers. And if they happen to come from boating families, as they often do, so much the better. They will bring first-person boating knowledge and experience to the job and, likely, their passion for the sport is just what you want customers and prospects to see.


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