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Summer vacation is rapidly approaching – do you know the guidelines for employing minors?

June 12, 2017

By Kristen Cifolelli, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

As the summer rapidly approaches, many employers will supplement their seasonal workforce with minors under the age of 18.   While this is a great opportunity to give a youth the ability to learn work skills, employers need to be aware of the special requirements and their obligations for employing a minor.

In the state of Michigan, minors are covered by the Youth Employment Standards Act (YESA).  A minor is defined as a worker under the age of 18.   The minimum age for employment is 14 years old, with a few very narrow exceptions.  Some of the exceptions include a minor 11 years of age or older may be employed as a golf caddy and a minor 13 years of age or older may be employed in certain farm operations.

Employees that are 18 years of age but still in high school are not considered a minor and therefore are not covered by the law.  In addition, there are several circumstances under which the Michigan child labor law will not apply.  Some of the more common exemptions to the child labor law include the following:

  • Work in a parent-owned and operated business
  • A minor employee who is 16 or 17 that has completed high school
  • An employee who is 17 years old who has passed the general education development (GED) test
  • Domestic work in a private residence
  • Emancipated minors
  • Soliciting, distributing, selling, or offering for sale newspapers, magazines, periodicals, political, or advertising matter
  • Services performed as part of a recognized youth oriented organization (e.g. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts)
  • Farm work not violating a Department of Labor standard

While YESA has certain exceptions from the law, the FLSA which also has youth employment requirements has no such exceptions, so employers must still comply with the youth employment requirements under the FLSA for any minor under age 18. 

Any minor who is 11 up to 18 years of age and not specifically exempted from YESA and who works in a paid or unpaid position, must have a work permit before staring work.  Work permits can be obtained from the state of Michigan school issuing officer (the chief administrator of a school district, intermediate school district, etc.) the minor attends or the school district where the minor will be employed. If the minor changes jobs, a new work permit is required for the new employer. A work permit may be revoked for poor academic performance. A work permit is required even if the minor is home/cyber/virtual/online schooled, does not attend school, or is an out-of-state resident.  Permits are available for printing or downloading on the Michigan Department of Education website. There is no work-permit requirement under the FLSA.

Employers begin the work permit process by completing section 1 of the CA-6 form (minors under 16) or the CA-7 form (minors 16 and 17).  Section one contains information regarding the employer’s offer of employment and must be completed in full.  The employer then gives the minor the form and the following steps must be completed before the minor begins work:

  • Minor completes section 2 and take the form to the school district’s issuing officer in person
  • The issuing officer verifies the age of the minor and whether the offer complies with state and federal laws
  • The issuing officer issues the work permit by signing and dating the form and keeping a copy on file
  • The minor returns the complete original form to the employer and they are now allowed to begin work.
  • Upon termination of employment, the employer must immediately return the permit to the school.

Under both Michigan and Federal child labor laws, certain occupational job duties are restricted to a specific age or prohibited under the age of 18 if they are considered hazardous.    Some of the prohibited job duties that are considered hazardous include the following:

  • Motor vehicle driving (both on public roads and waterways)
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatus, including forklifts, lift trucks, bobcats, etc.
  • Occupations involving power-driven equipment, tools,  saws, or machinery (e.g. bakery machines, paper product machines, metal forming, punching and shearing machines, power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears)
  • Contact with hazardous substances, chemicals, explosives or radioactive substances
  • Roofing operations
  • Excavation operations
  • Construction work including painting
  • Welding activities

YESA also provides limits to the number of hours a minor is able to work and limits the work day and work week for minors under the age of 16. Click here for specifics on work hours.

Both the Michigan Youth Employment Standards Act, as well as the MIOSHA health and safety standards, requires that a minor employee must be supervised by an individual 18 years of age or older.  Supervised means being on the premises to direct and control the work of the minor and to assist in case of an emergency.  Minors may not work more than 5 hours without a 30 minute uninterrupted break.  

Employers are required to keep the original work permit or verification of exemption from the act as long as the minor is employed.  The employer must also record the number of hours a minor works each day, their starting and ending times, as well as their breaks.  These records must be kept for one year.  

Employers who employ a minor without a work permit or who violate Michigan’s Youth Employment Standards Act can be subject to significant penalties.  Employers should understand their obligations and requirements under the law prior to hiring a minor.  There are several resources available on the Michigan Department of Education website  to assist employers.

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