The summer months are here, and teenagers are looking for ways to earn extra money and gain valuable work experience during their vacations, while some businesses are looking to fill possible labor shortages they might have.
It’s a promising time for both sides, but when hiring minors for part-time or entry-level positions, it’s important to understand child labor laws regulated by the United States Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The Texas Labor Code governs the employment of children and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which governs federal laws and guidelines pertaining to child labor.
Here’s what business owners should know:
DIFFERENT AGES, DIFFERENT JOBS
For most non-agricultural work, the minimum employment age is 14 (states can pass their own laws and set higher age requirements), though there are several exceptions.
For example, children under the age of 14 can deliver newspapers to customers, babysit on a casual basis, work as a homeworker gathering evergreens or work as actors or performers in movies, TV, radio, and theatre.
Children under 14 also may work for a business owned entirely by their parents, so long as it does not involve Hazardous Occupations (HOs) mining and manufacturing, driving a motor vehicle, fire prevention, exposure to radioactive substances, meat and poultry processing, power-driven bakery machines, and wrecking or demolition.
There are some HOs that provide limited exemptions for 16 and 17-year-olds if they obtain, provided applicable apprentice or student-learner certification. Those occupations include work involving power-driven woodworking and metal-forming machines, paper product machines, various saws, roofing operations, and excavation.
When it comes to work times are regulated by both state and federal law, the latter through the FLSA.
By state law, an employer commits an offense if a child aged 14 or 15 works for more than 8 hours in a day or more than 48 hours in a week. They are also restricted from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on a day followed by a school day or between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. on a day not followed by a school day. During the summer, the restricted hours are between midnight and 5 a.m. if the child is not enrolled in summer classes.
The FLSA regulates hours even further, not allowing children ages 14 and 15 to work during school hours. They also may not work more than 8 hours on a non-school day or more than 40 on a non-school week. During a school day, children are not permitted to work more than three hours or more than 18 on a school week. They are also restricted from working between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. during the school year or between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. from June 1 and Labor Day.
These laws and guidelines are in place to protect the well-being of minors, so it’s important to know what those are to avoid violations and the penalties that come with them.
Committing an offense in the State of Texas can lead to a Class A or a Class B misdemeanor and include fines not to exceed $10,000 for each violation. The attorney general may also seek injunctive relief in district court against an employer who is a repeat offender. The FLSA prescribes a maximum administrative penalty of $11,000 per violation and/or criminal prosecution and fines.
Employing minors for seasonal work can be much-needed help for employers and help the youth get workplace experience. Knowing the child labor laws can help ensure a safer and compliant workplace for young employees and reduce the risk for employers.
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