The summer months are here, and teenagers are looking for ways to earn extra money and experience during their vacations. Meanwhile, some businesses are looking to fill possible labor shortages they might have.
It’s a good time for both sides. Still, when hiring minors for part-time or entry-level positions, it’s important to understand child labor laws. The United States Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates such laws.
The Texas Labor Code governs the child employment, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates federal child labor laws.
Here’s what business owners should know:
DIFFERENT AGES, DIFFERENT JOBS
For most non-agricultural work, the minimum employment age is 14, though there are several exceptions.
Children under 14 can deliver newspapers to customers, babysit casually, work as homeworkers, or work as actors or performers.
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, and exposure to radioactive substances are examples of HOs.
Some HOs provide limited exemptions for 16 and 17-year-olds if they obtain 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.
Regarding work, times are regulated by state and federal law, the latter through the FLSA.
An employer commits an offense if a child aged 14 or 15 works for more than 8 hours a day or more than 48 hours a week. They cannot work between 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 taking summer classes.
The FLSA regulates hours even further, not allowing children ages 14 and 15 to work during school hours. They may not work more than 8 hours on a non-school day or more than 40 on a non-school week. Children are not permitted to work more than three hours or more than 18 on a school week during a school day. 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, criminal prosecution, and fines.
Employing minors for seasonal work can help 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 employer risk.
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