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What’s the word on the kind of work high school students are allowed to perform?

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. Our company owns a number of hardware stores and we plan to hire some high school students this fall. Are there certain limitations under child labor laws that restrict the types of duties that minors can be allowed to perform?

A. The U.S. Secretary of Labor considers certain tasks to be particularly hazardous or detrimental to the health and well-being of children.

In particular, people under 18 may not perform “hazardous occupations,” which include activities that may come into play in your business, such as:

  • Driving a motor vehicle (licensed minors can occasionally drive a vehicle not exceeding 6,000 pounds during daylight hours if he or she wears a seat belt).
  • Using power-driven woodworking machines.
  • Handling power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears.
  • Operating power-driven paper-product machines, including scrap-paper balers and paper-box compactors.

In addition, 14- and 15-year-old employees are prohibited from, among other things, working in a warehouse, loading or unloading goods to and from trucks or conveyors or working in connection with repairing or maintaining an establishment or its machines or equipment.

Some permissible types of tasks for 14- and 15-year-olds include cashiering, price-marking, shelving, errand and delivery work (by foot, bicycle or public transportation), and cleanup or maintenance, as long as power tools are not used.

Minnesota law also provides particular requirements for employing a minor of any age.

During the school year, children ages 14 and 15 are limited to working outside of school hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (these hours are extended to 9 p.m. in the summer). They can work only 18 hours in a school week or 40 hours in a nonschool week, including in the summer.

Additionally, high school students ages 16 and 17 cannot work before 5 a.m. on a school day, or later than 11 p.m. on a night before a school day.

Employers must also obtain proof of age for any minor employee or prospective employee.

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