Employment of Minors

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April 19, 2005
Author: , Esq.

Ever summer millions of teenagers enter the workforce for several months.  Employers need to have a working knowledge of various aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), as it relates to the employment of minors and what jobs they can perform.  Failure to comply with the FLSA, as well any state or local statutes or regulations which govern the employment of minors could result in severe civil fines and penalties and criminal prosecution.

The United States Department of Labor ("USDOL") is charged with overseeing the FLSA.  The USDOL has a special website designed to assist employers and teens concerning work rules for teenagers.  Employers are strongly encouraged to review this website at www.youthrules.dol.gov.  Employers who have additional questions can call the USDOL at 1-866-4USWAGE, or their labor attorney.  In addition, the USDOL issued new regulations on February 14, 2005 which implement changes to employment rules for youth.  "The final rules expand protections for youth working in restaurant cooking, roofing, driving and other areas."     

Concerning cooking, the new regulations "modernize the youth employment provisions regarding the types of cooking 14- and 15-year-olds are permitted to perform."   The regulations, "continue to prohibit 14 and 15 year-olds from performing any baking activities, and incorporates long-standing [USDOL] positions which permit these minors to operate microwave ovens that are used only to warm prepared food, and use, dispense, and serve food from warmers, steam tables, and other warming devices."   The USDOL website also has some great resources for employers including: (1) Restaurant self-assessment tools;   (2) Fact Sheet #2A which deals with employing youths in the restaurant industry;  and Fact Sheet 58 which deals with minors cooking and baking.

The new regulations also "expand the current prohibition against youth under age 18 working in roofing occupations to encompass all work on or about a roof, including work performed upon or in close proximity to a roof."   The USDOL website also has some useful resources for employers including: (1) a guide for employers in the construction industry concerning the employment of minors;  and (2) a fact sheet concerning the employment of minors on a roof or working near a roof.  

The regulations "incorporate two statutory amendments enacted by the Congress in the late 1990's.  The first amendment establishes criteria permitting 16- and 17-year-olds to load, but not operate or unload, certain waste-material baling and compacting equipment."   A fact sheet has also been provided to assist employers concerning the rules for employing minors and the loading of power-driven balers and compactors.  

"The second amendment delineates what limited on-the-job driving may be performed by qualified 17-year-olds."   The website provides employers with two very useful fact sheets.

In sum, employers must make sure they understand these new regulations, as well as other federal, state and local regulations which impact the employment of minors in the workplace.




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