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3 things you need to know when employing minors

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Employment Law |

Young workers may have less work experience, but they have rights like any other employees. As business owners employing these passionate and striving youth workers, you must ensure a welcoming environment that helps them ease in and thrive in their chosen careers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets regulations on wages, work hours and safety requirements. It covers most employees, including young workers (below 18 years old). It also protects youth employees from exploitation in the workforce. Here are three things you need to know when employing minors.

Employers must follow minimum wage requirements

Massachusetts’s minimum wage is $15.00 per hour, and the minimum service rate is $6.75 per hour. However, businesses can pay a lower minimum wage to employees under 20 for a limited period. Youth employees can get $4.25 per hour during the first 90 calendar days of their employment. The FLSA also allows subminimum wage rates for workers in certain industries who are full-time students or student-learners.

Young employees have work hours restrictions

Employees aged 14 and 15 are only allowed to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or up to 9 p.m. during summer breaks, and 16- and 17-year-olds can work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or up to 11:30 p.m. on non-school days. They cannot work during school hours on school days, except if it is a school-approved experience-building job. Workers 14 and 15 years old can only work up to 3 hours on a school day and up to 8 hours on non-school days. On the other hand, employees 16- and 17-year-olds can work up to 9 hours per day. Under state law, all workers under 18 cannot work beyond 8 p.m. without direct adult supervision.

Employers must ensure the safety of minor employees

Employees are legally responsible for their workers’ safety and well-being. Certain occupations are restricted from them to protect minor employees. This includes hazardous work in meat processing, construction, woodworking, manufacturing, roofing, excavation, mining, metal works and work exposing young workers to explosives and radioactive materials. Employees under 18 cannot operate power-driven machines and apparatus, such as meat slicers, bakery machines, chain saws, compactors, forklifts and the like. There are further restrictions enforced for workers below 16 in non-agricultural industries, ranches and farms.

It is essential to understand that young employees are not working just to pass the time. Like other workers, they have financial goals and responsibilities, and they want to gain substantial work experience and start their career progress early. Business owners employing workers under 18 must clearly understand their roles and responsibilities to ensure a rewarding working experience for young workers. Failure to do so could lead to legal disputes.