The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has compiled child labor laws to ensure that the wellbeing, health and education of teen workers is not jeopardized. There are different laws for each industry and varying ages that employers must follow.
In many industries, 14 and 15-year-old teens may be employed only for certain periods of time per day. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet, 14 and 15-year-old’s employed in restaurants and quick-service establishments may work no more than three hours on a school day and no more than eight hours on a non-school day. Working hours are also limited to between 7:00 a.m, and 7:00 p.m. except during summer. Depending on the type of business you own, there are pros and cons to hiring teen workers based on child labor laws.
Pros & Cons of Hiring Teen Workers
1. Pro: Reduced Payroll Expenses
As an employer, you may see reduced payroll costs by employing teen workers. Depending on the teen’s age, they can’t typically work full-time which will ensure there are no overtime costs. Also, if the teen is working less than 30 hours per week you are not required to offer health insurance. Most teens are entering the workforce for the first time and will not have extensive experience. As a result, pay can be commensurate with the lower experience level, but be sure to check with your state’s wage and hour division for minimum wage requirements.
2. Pro: Teen Workers Have More Flexible Schedules
When extra hands are needed for certain seasons, teens usually have flexible schedules in summer and during holiday breaks. Hiring teen workers to get you through the busy season provides necessary staffing and affords you the ability for a short-term employment commitment.
3. Pro: Pool of Unskilled Labor to Choose From
Hiring teens to do unskilled tasks allows your full-time crew to be open to doing big picture, higher-priority tasks. In addition, past teen employees are a great source for rehire.
4. Con: Lack Experience
Teens are teens and won’t have much, if any, experience in the workplace. This will call for extensive training and you’ll probably have to do a lot of hands on training at first. Be patient and ask the teen how they best learn.
5. Con: Teen Workers Usually Cannot Work Full-Time Consistently
Depending on your needs, the availability of your teen worker could be limited. Generally, teens are available after school or during long breaks, so if seasonal employment isn’t something you need, you may want to look elsewhere for staffing. Labor laws also require teen workers, depending on their age, to work within certain times throughout the day. This ensures that teen workers are getting enough rest and have enough time to complete their schoolwork.
How to Find Teen Workers
Most teens are active on social media. Consider posting a call for employment on your business social media platforms and ask current employees to share it with their networks. Keep in mind, word of mouth in smaller communities is just as valuable (if not more). Be the business that is known for treating teen workers with respect and dignity. If you are looking for college-aged workers check with local universities on how they recommend sharing job openings with students.
Key Takeaway for Hiring Teen Workers
It’s important to verify laws so that you don’t end up in violation or face a hefty fine. Don’t let the laws scare you from hiring teens—utilize teen workers for short seasonal employment to reduce payroll costs, just be informed on occupational and availability limitations based on age. Also make sure to check with your state’s department of labor for specific information on child labor laws as they pertain to your business.