Labor Rules Protect Young Workers in Summer Jobs

Young worker's first job mowing lawns Labor Rules Protect Young Workers in Summer Jobs

As many eager teens look for summer employment, employers need to research Federal and State child labor laws that dictate the workplace conditions for those younger than age 18.


I think we can all remember the feeling of excitement as the end of the school year approached. Thoughts of longer daylight hours, warmer weather, and most importantly – not sitting in a classroom. Thinking back to those simpler times, I remember looking forward to my summer plans – a summer job being at the top of the list. Whether it was nannying or working at the local car wash, this job meant earning money that gave me freedom to do the things I wanted (such as filling my gas tank).


I had given little recent thought to being a high schooler until a roofing company offered my 16-year-old brother a summer position. Being a loss control consultant, I couldn’t say “NO” fast enough and wanted him to wait until he was 18 to accept an opportunity to learn this trade. Luckily, the company withdrew their offer when they learned he didn’t have a driver’s license, so we did not have to cross that bridge.


Young workers, like my brother, are enticing because they are eager to learn, have an abundance of energy, and don’t mind doing the tasks that may seem less desirable to more seasoned workers. When thinking about hiring high school-aged help, consider the following:

  • The occupation you’re hiring
  • Age of the worker
  • Tasks the worker will do
  • Hours they will need to work

The U.S Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for employment, restricts the hours youth may work, and prohibits youths under the age of 18 from being employed in 17 Hazardous Occupations. But, even if the occupation isn’t listed, there may be tasks at your workplace youth workers legally cannot perform.


Additionally, the FLSA categorizes these youth workers: There are more restrictions on tasks and hours for 14- and 15-year-olds than there are for 16- and 17-year-olds. For example, 14- and 15-year-old workers may not work from ladders, so you will want to have the 16- or 17-year-old grab that item from the top shelf. Visit the U.S Department of Labor’s Young Workers page for a helpful breakdown of what is and is not allowed by the age of the worker.


So, as the school days come to an end (for the summer, of course) make sure you are up on all the latest youthful songs, sayings, and labor laws.


Employers, youth workers, parents, and interested readers can find more information on how to keep young workers safe, below: