May 8, 2018

Child Labor Laws and Summer Hiring

Summer is coming! Teens will be enjoying summer vacation, and some will be looking for employment during the summer months.  Before hiring teens, be sure to freshen up on the requirements because the child labor laws are detailed, and the penalties are steep if you don’t follow them!

Minimum Age Standards
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Kentucky law establish both hours and occupational standards for minors. In most cases the state and federal laws are very similar; however, it is important to be aware of both laws since the more restrictive requirements will apply.

In Kentucky, workers under the age of 18 are considered minors for purposes of employment. Both federal and state laws limit the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours they may work. For purposes of this article, an overview of the most common requirements will be provided.  To review the complete federal and state law see 803 KAR 1:100, KRS Chapter 339 and 29 CFR Part 570.

Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in occupations declared hazardous by the Kentucky Commissioner of Workplace Standards or the U.S. Department of Labor, including:

  • Motor vehicle driver and outside helper on a motor vehicle.
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatus.
  • Power-driven circular saws and band saws.
  • Excavating operations.

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working positions that include:

  • The use of a hoisting apparatus or power-driven machinery other than office machines.
  • Operating or helping on motor vehicles, although they may clean vehicles.
  • Mowing (KLC Insurance Services recommends they be at least 18).
  • Performing public messenger duties.
  • Transporting people or property, including the operation of golf carts.
  • Public utilities.
  • Maintenance or repair of machinery.
  • Tasks requiring the use of ladders or scaffolds.
  • Cooking (except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, or cafeterias).
  • Loading or unloading trucks.

Minors between the age of 14 and 16 years of age may be employed in positions that include:

  • Office and clerical work, including the operation of office machines.
  • Errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transportation.
  • Cleanup work, including the use of vacuum cleaners and floor waxers, and maintenance of grounds. They may not use power-driven mowers or cutters.
  • Kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of the work, such as dishwashers, toasters, milk shake blenders and coffee grinders.
  • Work in connection with cars and trucks such as car cleaning, washing and polishing. They may not perform any work involving the use of pits, racks, or lifting apparatus, or the inflation of any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring.
  • Lifeguards.

Generally, minors under the age of 14 may not work except in an employment program sponsored by the school he or she attends. However, minors between 13 and 15 years of age may carry golf bags weighing no more than 35 pounds. Caddies under the age of 14 may caddy only 18 holes in one day. Minors who are 11 and 12 years old may not carry golf bags and are restricted to caddying only with a pull cart. No minor under 16 years of age may operate power-driven golf carts or any power-driven maintenance equipment.

Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to work during school hours nor may they work:

  • More than eight hours a day or 40 hours per week during the summer months defined as June 1 through Labor Day;
  • After 9:00 p.m. during the summer months;
  • Three hours on school days or 18 hours a week when school is in session; or
  • Before 7:00 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m. when school is in session.

However, these restrictions on hours do not apply to those minors under 16 years of age who have graduated from high school or an approved vocational school equivalent to high school, are enrolled in an approved work training or career exploration program, are otherwise not required to attend school, or school authorities have made arrangements for him or her to attend school at other than the regular hours if the employment will not interfere with the minor's schooling, health, or well-being.

Children between the ages of 16 and 17 are not permitted to work:

  • More than six hours per day on a school day, or eight hours per day on a non-school day during the school year.  The total hours worked in a week during the school year must not exceed 30, unless he or she has gained a special exemption from both a parent and school administrator.  If exempted, he or she may only work up to 40 hours per week during the school year.
  • Additionally, a minor of this age may not work later than 10:30 p.m. on a school night, or 1:00 a.m. on a non-school night.
  • There are no restrictions on the number of hours per day or per week a 16 or 17 year old may work during the summer months.

Meal and Rest Breaks 
No minor under the age of 18 may work for more than five continuous hours without a lunch period of at least 30 minutes.  Additionally, the rest period requirements for all employees will also apply to minors.  Kentucky law requires a reasonable break (usually 10 minutes or more), to be provided to an employee during each four hours worked.

Notice and Other Hiring Requirements
Cities must post conspicuously, in every room where minors under the age of 18 are working, a summary of the child labor laws, a list of occupations prohibited to minors, and a statement of the hours minors are allowed to work each day. The Kentucky Office of Workplace Standards provides a downloadable version of the required poster on their website.

Minors that are hired by the city must also be treated as any other employee hired by the city.  They must be paid at least the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25, and they must be paid for all hours worked.  As such cities should keep records of all hours worked, as well as the time for meal breaks taken.

Cities must also complete the Form I-9 as well as Form W-4 on all newly hired minors even if they are only employed for the summer.  Specific information on filling out Form I-9 for minors can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.  Lastly, be sure to provide and review all city policies with them and any other items normally provided during the city’s new hire process.

Penalties for violation of child labor laws can be steep, including fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense, plus $100 for each day the violation continues after notice.  As such, knowing the law in this area before you hire is essential. 

For more information on this or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services specialist.