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Considerations When Hiring a Minor

April 29, 2022

By Susan Chance, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Spring has sprung, at least by the calendar, which means it is time to hire summer help. Help could come in the form of interns, co-ops, work study programs, or perhaps even just helping a young person with an employment opportunity. What does this mean for employers?

This is a good time to do some spring cleaning on your pre-employment processes. If you run background checks on your employees, do you do the same for temporary help? Do all employees get the same background check, or does what you check depend on the position? If you run background checks on employees, but not for interns, have you reviewed the basis for that decision?

If you do run background checks for all employees regardless of their classification, do you have the proper forms for any employees under the age of 18? If your applicant is not yet 18, their authorization and disclosure forms should be signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

Some employers may decide not to run a criminal check on a minor because in most cases juvenile records are sealed. However, if a minor was convicted as an adult, that would not be the case. While that may be a long shot, the question is do you err on the side of caution?

Will the minor drive at all for the position? Young drivers are inexperienced, and some may take chances that are not safe, so MVR checks can be particularly important in these cases. It is also important to keep in mind that many states, including Michigan, have restrictions on drivers who are under 18 such as a limit on the number of passengers in the vehicle when a minor is driving to curfews that limit the hours a minor can drive under certain circumstances.

There is a flip side to this. What kind of a background check, if any, do you run on your employees who will work with any minors you hire? What processes do you have in place to protect the welfare of these employees? If you do not already do so, at a minimum, a check of the National Sex Offender Registry is a good start when it comes to background checks for employees who will work with minors.

What training do you have in place for your adult staff when it comes to minors working at your businesses? While the list is not exhaustive, one article suggests the following topics for training:

  • Social media contact with minor employees
  • Ride sharing with minor employees
  • Work-related travel with minor employees
  • Off-duty in-person contact with minor employees
  • Consumption of alcohol with minor employees present
  • Providing alcohol to minor employees

While you may think these things are common sense, you would be surprised how many people do not give any thought to these things.

Whatever their role is in your company, make sure employees who are minors are treated the same as all other employees when it comes to proving proper training for their job and making sure they understand company policies. They have to understand not only what is prohibited, but also what they should do if they find themselves on the receiving end of any prohibited behaviors such as sexual harassment.

All employees should feel safe on the job, and all of the adults around them should do everything they can to ensure that safety.

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