It is summer, and you know what that means: teenagers, everywhere. And they are not just hanging out at the mall, they are working at the mall, at the local pool, and in other entry-level positions. Unlike other workers, however, teenagers come with their own special set of complications. Generational issues aside, the real concern for employers with employment of minors is complying with federal and state laws specific to employment of minors.
Before hiring minors, each employer should verify whether it can hire minor employees in the industry in which the employer operates and the state in which the business is located. Many states, including Ohio, require that an employer first obtain some type of work permit before hiring minors. Under Ohio law, every minor 14 through 17 years of age must have a working permit unless otherwise exempted, e.g., 16 and 17 year olds who only work during the summer in nonagricultural and nonhazardous employment. R.C. § 4109.02.
There are, however, some occupations deemed too hazardous for minors. In Ohio, they include the following:
Prohibited Occupations for All Working Minors (Ages 14 through 17):
- Occupations involving slaughtering, meat-packing, processing, or rendering;
- Operating power-driven bakery machines;
- Occupations involved in the manufacture of brick, tile, and kindred products;
- Occupations involved in the manufacture of chemicals;
- Manufacturing or storage occupations involving explosives;
- Occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations;
- Operating power-driven paper products machines;
- Operating power-driven metal forming, punching, and shearing machines;
- Occupations involved in the operation of power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears;
- Operating power-driven woodworking machines;
- Logging and sawmilling;
- Motor vehicle occupations;
- Maritime and longshoreman occupations;
- Railroad work;
- Excavation operations;
- Occupations requiring use of power-driven and hoisting apparatus;
- Roofing operations; and
- Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking.
Additional Prohibited Occupations for Minors Under the Age of 16:
- All manufacturing, mining, and processing;
- Public messenger service;
- Work in freezers and meat coolers and all preparation of meats for sale (except wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking);
- Transportation, storage, communications, public utilities, construction, or repair;
- Work in boiler or engine rooms;
- Maintenance or repair of machinery;
- Outside window washing from window sills or scaffolding and/or ladders;
- Cooking and baking;
- Operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, food choppers, cutters, and bakery type mixers;
- Loading or unloading goods to and from trucks;
- All warehouse work except office and clerical; and
- Work in connection with cars and trucks involving the use of pits, racks, or lifting apparatus or involving the inflation of any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring.
Some states, including Ohio, also prohibit some minors from engaging in door-to-door sales. In Ohio, no employer may employ any minor under age 16 in any door-to-door sales activity unless the employer applies to and is registered with the director of commerce. R.C. § 4109.21.
An employer applying for a license for door-to-door sales involving minors under age 16 must:
- For each six minor employees, provide at least one supervisor over age 18 who is at all times available and responsible for assuring the minors’ well-being, and who remains in the general area and in visual contact with each minor employed in door-to-door sales activities at least once every 20 minutes;
- Require minors to work at least in pairs with others engaged in substantially the same activity, employing canvassing techniques that keep people working in pairs in close proximity and view of each other;
- Require certification that any driver for the minor has an up-to-date inspection record with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to ensure the motor vehicle’s safety;
- Require proof that any person transporting minor employees has a valid Ohio driver’s license that is not under suspension;
- Provide the minor with an identification card including, at least, a picture of the minor, the minor’s name, the name and address of the employer, a statement that the employer is registered with the director of commerce, and the employer’s registration number; and
- Comply with all other state and federal laws regarding the employment of minors.
Ohio’s provisions on door-to-door sales activity do not apply to activity connected to bona fide educational, charitable, or religious activity or for an adult-supervised newspaper subscription drive where the minor working on the subscription drive is also responsible for later delivery of the newspaper. R.C. § 4109.21.
Employment of Minors
Once you have hired a minor, there are more laws to follow:
Some states require an employer to enter into a wage agreement with the minor. Ohio law provides: “No employer shall give employment to a minor, without agreeing with him/her as to the wages or compensation he/she shall receive for each day, week, month, year or per piece for work performed.” R.C. § 4109.10. This law also prohibits an employer from reducing a minor’s wage without first giving at least 24 hours’ notice before the reduction. Any change requires a new wage agreement.
Hours of Work – Federal Requirements
In almost all cases, employers are prohibited from employing minors younger than 14.
14 and 15 Year Olds:
The U.S. Department of Labor has strict standards for the hours that minors ages 14 and 15 can work. Between June 1 and Labor Day (summertime), minors younger than 16 may work only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. At all other times, minors younger than age 16 may only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and cannot be required to work during school hours. They also may work no more than three hours on a school day, including Fridays; 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day; and 40 hours during weeks that school is not in session. 29 C.F.R. § 570.35.
16 and 17 Year Olds:
While there are no specific federal laws that restrict the hours that minors ages 16 and 17 can work, employers must still comply with all state laws on the issue.
Hours of Work – Ohio Requirements
14 and 15 Year Olds:
Ohio law mirrors federal law.
16 and 17 Year Olds:
Ohio law prohibits 16 and 17 year olds from working:
- Before 6 a.m. if the minor was not employed after 8 p.m. the previous night;
- Before 7 a.m. on any day that school is in session; and
- After 11 p.m. on any night preceding a day that school is in session.
Wages and Breaks
Many states also require employers to give minors meal breaks. The laws regarding the frequency of breaks for minors vary by state and generally require that minors receive both paid breaks and unpaid lunch breaks more frequently than adult employees. Ohio’s law provides: “No employer shall employ a minor more than five consecutive hours without allowing the minor a rest period of at least thirty minutes. The rest period need not be included in the computation of the number of hours worked by the minor.” R.C. § 4109.07(C).
As with all workers, minors must be paid no less than the federal minimum wage. However, there is a special youth minimum wage program that allows a minimum wage of not less than $4.25 to be paid to employees under the age of 20 for their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with any employer, as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or when the worker reaches age 20 (whichever comes first), the worker must receive at least the federal minimum wage.It is illegal to hire only employees under age 20 at the youth wage and employ them only for 90 days each. If your state, like Ohio, has a higher minimum wage, the employee will likely have to be paid at the higher rate.
Many states, including Ohio, also require employers to keep records relating to the employment of minors. In Ohio, employers are required to keep a list of each minor employed at each establishment. The employer must also post that list in a conspicuous place, in an area frequented by the largest number of minor employees, and where all minor employees can see it. R.C. § 4109.08. Each employer must also keep a time book or other written record showing the amount of wages paid each pay period to every minor, as well as the actual starting and stopping time of each work and rest period for at least two years. R.C. § 4109.11.