GUIDELINES FOR HIRING MINORS
Hiring employees for temporary summer employment can be stressful for a small business that is short on time and swamped with the seasonal demands the summer can bring. Summer employees need to be trained quickly so that they can hit the ground running and start contributing to your success in as little time as possible. One advantage to seasonal hiring during the summer is that there is an abundant source of young workers who are off from school and able to fill many different positions. Their demand for wages is often lower because they are not supporting families of their own yet and their availability is very flexible because they are not in school. It is important that your business follow all legal requirements related to the hiring of young people in order to ensure that the company remains in compliance and is not subjected to penalties or fines.
Many young people seek employment during the summer months while they are out of school. While it may be tempting to take advantage of this readily available source of labor, it is important to keep in mind several Kentucky statutes to ensure that your company remains compliant. The following summarizes the child hiring guidelines provided by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.
Minors Under the Age of Fourteen – Kentucky law prohibits the employment of any minor under the age of fourteen (14) years old. KRS 339.220 provides that the only exception to this rule is “employment in connection with an employment program supervised and sponsored by the school or school district such child attends.” It may be tempting to hire young family members or the family members of other employees for odd jobs around the office. Unless your company has arranged to participate with a school in an internship program which has been approved by the Kentucky Department of Education, minors under the age of fourteen cannot be employed.
Minors Between the Ages of 14 and 15 – The employment of minors between the ages of 14 and 15 is restricted in different ways depending on whether school is in session or not. If you hire a minor in this age range in the early summer, it may be safer to wait until school is officially out of session before allowing them to begin. It is important to keep these distinctions in mind if a minor in this age range is hired over the summer and your company wishes to retain them on through the fall once school is back in session. Lastly, because the statute makes distinctions based on whether school is in session or not, it is important to ensure that anyone employed in this age range during the summer is not attending summer school.
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet provides the following useful summary of the statutes applicable to employees between the age of 14 and 15:
1. May work three (3) hours per day on a school day, eight (8) hours a day on a non-school day, and up to eighteen (18) hours total in a week when school is in session.
2. May work eight (8) hours per day, forty (40) hours per week when school is not in session for the entire school week.
3. May work between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
4. Between June 1 and Labor Day, the minor may work as late as 9:00 p.m.
5. Minors under sixteen (16) years of age may not be employed during regular school hours.
Additionally, minors in this age range are prohibited from working in a large number of industries which may be hazardous to minors including most bars, pool or billiard rooms, or manual labor involving heavy machinery. For a complete list, see 803 KAR 1:100.
Employees between the ages of 16 and 17 – If considering employees in this age range, be sure to comply with the following guidelines which are less restrictive than those which apply to younger employees.
1. May work six (6) hours a day on a school day; eight (8) hours a day on a non-school day up to thirty (30) hours total in a school week.
2. May work between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. preceding a school day and between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. preceding a non-school day during a school week.
Employment of workers between the ages of 16 and 17 continues to be prohibited in a large range of industries which involve heavy machinery. However, some exemptions become available in this range.
All Employees Under the Age of 18 – Minors who are under the age of 18 must take a 30 minute lunch break for each 5 hours that they work. KRS 339.270. Your company must maintain proof of age for each minor it employs, usually in the form of a birth certificate, driver’s license or school identification card. KRS 339.450 By employing minors under the age of 18, your company is required to post a summary of Kentucky’s Child Labor Laws where they are plainly visible to the minors. KRS 339.400. Lastly, be sure that you are paying your workers at least minimum wage. Minimum Wage in Kentucky is currently $7.25.
While there are numerous regulations which must be carefully complied with in the course of hiring minors for summer employment, it can be a worthwhile experience for both the employer and the minor employee. The employer gains a valuable cost efficient asset and the minor gains a wealth of experience that will help them in the future.
Cynthia L. Effinger, an Associate of the firm, joined McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC in 2012. Ms. Effinger has a broad range of legal experience gained through 13 years of practice throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky where her clients conduct business. Ms. Effinger’s practice is concentrated in the areas of employment law and commercial litigation. She also has experience with First Amendment litigation, securities litigation and complex litigation. Ms. Effinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (502) 327-5400, ext. 316.
This article is intended as a summary of newly enacted federal law and does not constitute legal advice. Special thanks to Brandon Johnson, Law Clerk, for contributions to this article.