As summer approaches and businesses look to getting back to a more normal schedule, hiring teens maybe an opportunity to supplement your staff. This is a great way for teens to gain job skills and experience. If you have never employed teens, you may want to review the labor laws that apply to underage workers.
Here are some tips from Department of Labor for employers:
- Verify the ages of young employees. In Alabama if the worker is under 18 years of age, you must apply for a certificate. There are two types: Class I for 14 and 15 year olds and Class II for 16 and 17 year olds. To apply, use this link Alabama Department of Labor (alabamainteractive.org). Additionally, if the child is 14 or 15, they must have a Eligibility to Work form from their school.
- Ensure that management is trained on child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Here’s the link Child Labor | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
- Clearly tell minors what tasks they cannot perform and how many hours they can work each day. If they are under 17, they are not permitted to drive for the job even if they possess a valid license is an example. There are many industry specific rules on disallowed tasks or using equipment. This is important because ensuring their safety is paramount. There are approximately 105,000 teen on-the-job injuries a year, most were in the accommodations and food industries.
- Review records for minors. Verify that they are not working more hours than they are allowed or during times that are not permitted. Additionally, Alabama requires that employers maintain on-premises employee information form, proof of age, and time records.
- Post warning labels on prohibited equipment. People under 18 are not allowed to operate, clean, or maintain meat slicers. Posting a reminder on the equipment will help prevent violations and be a safety reminder.
- Train new workers on job hazards and safety.
- Encourage new workers to speak up about safety concerns.
The Department of Labor offers these five tips for underage employees:
- Know when you can legally work. In the restaurant industry 14 or 15 year olds are limited to after-school hours of no more than 3 hours. Non-school days are limited to 8 hours with a maximum of 18 hours a week. During the summer, no more than 40 hours a week.
- Know what tasks and equipment you may and may not do and use. There are restrictions on lawn mowers and certain kitchen and farm equipment to highlight a few.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Know your employee rights and learn who to call when you have questions.
- Politely say no if asked to something prohibited or you feel is unsafe.
In 2020, there were more than 850 investigations that uncovered child labor violations with nearly 3,400 minors employed in violations.