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Many employers need extra help during the summer but, whether you’re hiring teenagers under the age of 18 for seasonal or year-round positions, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure things go smoothly…
- The current minimum wage for Florida is $7.67 an hour. This applies to all employees, regardless of age.
- Tipped employees like food servers must be paid a cash wage of at least $4.65 an hour if you count their tips towards the required minimum wage. If an employee’s tips combined with the direct cash wages do not equal the minimum wage of $7.67 an hour, you are responsible for paying them the difference. This applies to all employees, regardless of age.
With certain exceptions, a minor must be at least 14 years old to work in Florida.
Special restrictions on driving for teens: Teenagers under 18 cannot drive automobiles as part of their job. The only exception is for 17-year-olds, who may drive cars and small trucks during daylight hours and only under very limited circumstances.
There many additional legal restrictions on hiring teens, which are still considered “child labor” by the Department of Labor. It is prudent to review the basic rules on the Department of Labor website, www.dol.gov, such as the limitations on the hours that 14- and 15-year-olds can work during the summer:
- No more than 40 hours per week
- Up to 8 hours a day
- Only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In addition, 14- and 15- year olds:
- Must be given a 30-minute, uninterrupted break after 4 consecutive hours of work. The break can be unpaid.
- Can work in most office jobs and retail and food service establishments, but may not sell, prepare or serve alcoholic beverages, nor may they work in any workplace where goods are manufactured or processed.
- Cannot operate most power-driven machinery, including lawnmowers, lawn trimmers, and weed cutters.
- May operate most office machines and certain equipment in restaurants, such as dishwashers, toasters, milk shake blenders, and coffee grinders.
- May perform work like bagging groceries, office work, stocking shelves, cashiering, and light cooking performed in the full sight of customers.
- Cannot bake as part of their employment.
If you are hiring a 16- or 17- year old, there are no limits on the hours that he can work. However, there are limits on the duties anyone under 18 can perform. He generally cannot work in any occupation considered hazardous, including construction jobs, warehousing jobs, public messenger jobs or jobs that require the use of power-driven machines, such as meat slicers, bakery equipment, power saws, etc.
During the summer, 16 and 17-year-olds:
- Have no limit on the number of hours they may work each day and each week. But if they work more than 40 hours in a work week, they are entitled to overtime pay.
- Have no limit on the time of day they may work.
- Can work only 6 consecutive days per work week.
- Can work no more than 4 consecutive hours without a 30-minute, uninterrupted break. The break may be unpaid.
- Cannot sell, prepare, or serve alcoholic beverages.
- Cannot drive automobiles as part of their job. [There is a limited exception for 17-year-olds; see “Age Requirements” above.
- Cannot work on any scaffolding, roofs, or ladders above 6 feet.
- Cannot perform electrical work.
- Cannot work in or around toxic substances or pesticides.
- Cannot use power-driven bakery machines or meat slicers.
If your business hires an employee under the age of 18, you are required to post a Child Labor Laws poster. You are also required to keep records to prove the age of all minors you hire. To satisfy this requirement, you can do one of the following:
- Copy the minor’s birth certificate.
- Copy the minor’s driver’s license.
- Get an age certificate issued by the School Board.
- Copy a passport or visa that lists the minor’s date of birth.
If you are in the construction industry, please remember that an employee under 18 years of age cannot work in roofing occupations or work on or near a roof. This includes all work performed in connection with the installation of roofs, as well as any work on the ground related to roofing operations, such as roofing laborer, roofing helper, materials handler, or tending a tar heater.
Minors are also prohibited from performing work near a roof, including carpentry and metal work; the construction of the base of roofs, gutter and downspout work; the installation and servicing of TV, cable, or satellite equipment; and the installation and servicing of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment attached to roofs.
New Employee Orientation
It’s a great idea to provide an orientation and training to young employees. Don’t treat temporary employees differently; they need to understand policies, rules and your culture as much as your other employees. Remember, this may be a first job for a teen so laying out the expectations can be particularly valuable. Clear expectations prevent problems and help any employee be more successful. Be explicit about basics such as timeliness, dress code, pay dates, the job description, expected behaviors, and who to go to with questions. If you can assign a work buddy to serve as a role model and go-to person, so much the better.
Finally, be sure to check your state laws to be sure you are in compliance. All states have child labor standards. When federal and state standards differ, the rules that provide the most protection to young workers apply.
Hiring teens should be a win-win for both you and the teens you hire. With your legal obligations in mind and a little extra thought put towards orienting and educating your new employees, summertime should be enjoyable for all!
Brian Sivillo, CIC, ARM, CRM, CWCA is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Brian works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk management and commercial property and casualty insurance guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at email@example.com
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