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7 Rules You Need to Know Before Hiring a Minor


Author: ADP Admin/Thursday, April 25, 2019/Categories: Bulletin News

Overview:  With spring in full swing and summer approaching, employers may be thinking about hiring minors for the summer months. If you plan to hire minors, be sure to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Here are seven requirements to consider for hiring minors.


#1: Minimum wage and overtime.

Under federal law, employers must generally pay all non-exempt employees—including minors—at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek (some states require overtime in additional circumstances). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay employees under the age of 20 an "opportunity wage" of $4.25 per hour during the first consecutive 90 calendar days of employment. After 90 days, they must receive at least the full minimum wage. Keep in mind that state and local laws may differ. Many have higher minimum wage rates (including a higher youth minimum wage) and/or specifically prohibit employers from paying anything less than the minimum wage. Check your applicable laws to ensure compliance.

#2: Minimum age requirements.

The FLSA prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from working in hazardous occupations. A list of these occupations can be found here. Additionally, individuals under the age of 16 are generally excluded from, among other things, manufacturing, mining, machine-tending, transportation, construction, and public utility work. Minors under the age of 17 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle. Employees who are 17 or older may do so as long as certain conditions are met. Some jurisdictions have additional restrictions, so check your state and local law to ensure compliance. Note you may also be required to obtain and keep documentation of the minor's age.

#3: Work permits.

Many states require minors to have a work permit or working papers before they can start work. Work permits are typically obtained through the minor's school district or the state Department of Labor. Some states have additional requirements. For instance, Washington requires employers to obtain and display an endorsement if they will be employing minors.

#4: Hours restrictions.

The FLSA and many state laws restrict the hours a minor can work. Under the FLSA, when school is in session, 14- and 15-year-olds can work three hours on a school day or 18 hours in a school week. When school is not in session, they may work up to 40 hours in a week. While there are no federal limits on the hours worked by 16- and 17-year-old workers, some states impose such restrictions.

#5: New hire paperwork.

When hiring a new employee, employers must complete certain paperwork, including:

  • Form I-9. Employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for all new hires, including minors. Like other new hires, minors must provide documentation that verifies their identity and their authorization to work in the United States from a list of acceptable documents. In some cases, a minor may not have a document that verifies their identity, such as a driver's license issued by a state. There are special procedures for such cases.
  • Form W-4. All new hires must complete a W-4 to determine the amount of federal income tax to withhold from their wages. A number of states also require a tax withholding form. If the new hire expects to be exempt from federal income tax withholding, they should follow the W-4's instructions for such cases. If the employee has questions or asks for advice on how to complete a W-4, instruct them to speak with a tax advisor.
  • Notice of Coverage Options. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers must provide a Notice of Coverage Options to all new hires within 14 days of their start date. This requirement applies even if the employer doesn't offer health insurance and/or the employee is not eligible for health insurance.
  • State forms. Many states and local jurisdictions also require that employers provide specific notices to employees at the time of hire. For example, California requires employers to provide new hires with notices related to state disability insurance, paid family leave, workers' compensation, and other employment-related protections. Provide new hire notices in accordance with your state and local requirements.
  • New hire reporting. Federal law requires that employers submit certain information to their state regarding each new hire, including minors, within 20 days of the employee's start date. Several states have shorter timeframes. New hire reporting is included in many RUN Powered by ADP® packages. If you have to fulfill these responsibilities on your own, check your state's new hire reporting program for details.

#6: Meal and rest breaks.

Many states have specific meal and rest break laws. Even if your state does not require you to provide breaks to other employees, you may be required to provide them to minors. States with special meal and rest break rules for minors include, but are not limited to, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

#7: Discrimination and harassment.

Nondiscrimination laws prohibit employers from discriminating or harassing applicants and employees. Some states go a step further and require sexual harassment training for all employees. Check your state and local laws to ensure compliance, enforce your nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies consistently and promptly investigate all complaints.


Action Required:  These are just some of the rules to consider before hiring a minor. If you're planning to hire minors, make sure you comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.


As always, please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions. 

This content provides practical information concerning the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal advice.

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