Know the Laws When Hiring Teens as Summer Help

Compliance, Employee Benefits, War For Talent

School’s out for the summer and students are looking for ways to make some money. At the same time, many employers need seasonal help and are turning to teenagers to fill in the gaps and energize their business. Seems like a win-win situation! But before employers decide to employ teenage students, there are a few things they need to know.

First and foremost, age matters. For employers hiring summer help, the age of an employee can change how that employee is treated. This is especially true when hiring workers under the age of 18. Before hiring a worker in this age range, an employer needs to understand the legal restrictions for this age group at the state and federal level. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for most employment at 14. It also limits the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16 and prohibits minors under the age of 18 from working in hazardous occupations, as determined by the United States Department of Labor.

In addition to the federal standards, employers in Wisconsin must comply with Wisconsin’s child labor laws. Wisconsin law, through the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), regulates the employment of workers younger than 18 years of age. When Wisconsin’s child labor laws and the (FLSA) child labor provisions overlap, the law providing the most protection to minors will prevail (which is usually the state).

Wisconsin’s child labor laws protect employees under the age of 18 by:

  • Limiting the age at which minors are allowed to work (for most occupations) to 14
  • Requiring an employer who hires minors between the ages of 14 and 17 to possess a valid work permit for each minor (The Wisconsin Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund (WISBF) can require that an employer reimburse the WISBF for primary compensation paid to a minor under worker’s compensation.)
  • Prohibiting a minor from engaging in hazardous employment (If minor is injured performing a hazardous occupation, an employer may be required to pay the WISBF double the primary compensation paid to the minor under worker’s compensation.)
  • Limiting the hours minors are allowed to work based on their age and time of the year

Need more information? Visit the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Child Labor page.

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