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Summer is almost here – If you hire minors, remember your employer responsibilities

May 24, 2019

By Michael Burns

As we noted a couple of weeks ago in the EPTW article, Summer Interns – To Pay or Not to Pay, employers operating internships must know what is required of them, and many may also be minors. Most internships should be paid ones pursuant to the law.

Employment of minors requires employers to be cognizant of both youth labor standards and the special safety requirements for employment of youth workers.

Labor Standards

In addition to the federal Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers in Michigan need to be aware of Michigan Youth Employment requirements. Depending upon the age of the minor, the young worker may not perform certain tasks pursuant to law. The younger the worker, the more jobs they are restricted from working in. Other states have their own employment of minors laws that should be consulted before employment.

Minors, unless they are emancipated, are still required to obtain work permits. In Michigan, work permits typically are obtained by the youth from the local school board. Employers normally are required to provide the minor a letter of intention to employ that the school board administrator will ask for.

The letter of intention typically states the nature of the job the minor will be employed in, hours of work, wages to be paid, and sometimes other information required by the department of labor. The minor must furnish proof of age.

When a work permit is issued to the minor, it will be a distinct color depending upon the age of the minor. Work permits for minors over 16 years of age are one color, work permits for minors under 16 years of age will be another color.

The number of hours a minor is permitted to work will vary based upon age and will depend on whether the minor is working on a school day or not. Employers should be aware of and control the number of hours a minor is permitted to work. The number of hours a minor may work without at least a 30-minute break is five hours in Michigan.

Michigan employers should also know their record keeping and posting requirements to be in legal compliance.  For more information on youth employment law, ASE members can access information online in the CCH HRAnswersNow library via the ASE member dashboard. This ASE members-only feature provides youth employment law requirements for all 50 states plus territories.

Safety Standards

By the way, May is Safe Jobs for Youth Month.  Again, know both your state laws as well as federal laws pertaining to employment of youth and what jobs can and cannot be worked based upon the child’s age. Make sure the minor is properly trained and supervised and make sure the minor knows that they can ask for help if they need it. In Michigan, employers are responsible for compliance under the state MIOSHA regulations.

Under the federal law there are a variety of industries and occupations, again depending upon their age, that youth are restricted from working in and even around. In some industry and work minors may be allowed to have a job, but may not be able to work certain machinery until they are of age to do so under the law. No minor may drive automobiles or trucks on public roads as part of their employment until reaching the age of 17, and even then conditions may apply.

Employers should be aware of all jobs or machinery restrictions. ASE can provide information and guidance on youth employment standards through both its CCH HRAnswersNow library and also its Member Hotline resources.

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