Employment of teens under age 18 can provide a valuable summer work experience for students and an enthusiastic addition to your workforce. Be wary, though, of running afoul of federal and state laws that regulate the ages, hours and type of work performed by minors. More stringent rules regarding hours worked apply during the school year.

Some facts you should know about summer employment of teens:

  • If you employ any minors (under age 18), you must conspicuously display a poster that notifies them of the Child Labor Laws. Posters are available from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and may be downloaded at: http://www.myflorida.com/dbpr/reg/documents/child_labor_laws poster_legal.pdf

  • All employees under age 18 must be given a 30-minute break after every 4 hours of work.

  • Children under 14 years old cannot be employed, except in the performing arts, newspaper delivery, baby-sitting, as legislative pages, or in a non-hazardous family business.

  • Teens age 14 and 15 cannot work more than 40 hours per week, and cannot work after 9:00 p.m.

  • Restrictions on the type of work done by 14 and 15-year-olds include the following. They may not: operate any power-driven machinery (including power mowers and cutters) other than office machines; use meat grinders, vegetable slicers, food choppers or bakery mixers; do cooking and baking (some exceptions); load or unload trucks; operate motor vehicles; conduct door-to-door sales; do spray painting; or work in construction.

  • Restriction on the type of work done by 16 and 17-year-olds include the following: They may not: operate motor vehicles; use forklifts or similar equipment; work on scaffolding, roofs or ladders over 6 feet; operate circular saws or band saws; use power-driven meat and vegetable slicers or a variety of other power-driven machinery; or work with electrical apparatus or wiring.

Penalties for violations of the Florida child labor laws include fines of $2,500 per offense, and criminal prosecution. Federal fines can be assessed at $11,000 per minor per violation. In addition, under Florida’s workers compensation statute, an employer may be charged double the compensation otherwise payable if an injured teen was employed in violation of any of these laws.

The best practice is to know the restrictions that apply, and make sure appropriate safety procedures are followed.

Additional information about summer safety for teen employees is available from the Department of Labor at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/teenworkers/employers.html