Q. We are considering hiring several high school students to work at our company for the summer. What statutes or regulations do we need to consider?
A. Assuming the students you hire are under the age of 18, and depending on the nature of your business, you may be subject to various state and federal child labor laws.
Under federal law, child labor is regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (). The FLSA prohibits “oppressive child labor,” and restricts the kinds of occupations and conditions in which children under age 18 are permitted to work.
The Texas Child Labor Act prohibits employment of children in an occupation that is detrimental to the child’s safety, health and well-being.
Both the federal and state labor laws prohibit essentially the same employment practices.
Generally, children ages 14 to 16 years old may be employed in agriculture and certain retail, food service and gasoline service occupations.
There are restrictions on the hours these minors may work during the school year. During the summer, the workday is restricted to a maximum of eight hours a day, five days a week, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (with a late-night exception provided for minors working at sporting events). Exceptions are also made for qualifying school vocational programs.
Children between the ages of 16 and 18 are not subject to work hour restrictions. They are simply ineligible to work in certain occupations designated as “hazardous.” Hazardous occupations include those involving explosives, mining, logging and woodworking. In addition, they may not perform demolition, roofing and excavation work. They may not be exposed to radioactivity.
Their work must not involve such dangerous equipment as power driven hoists (such as cranes and elevators), meatpacking and bakery machinery, paper-products machines, brick-and-tile manufacturing equipment and power saws.
If the work performed at your company involves any of the above, or any similar power-driven machinery, you should carefully review the regulations governing child labor to ensure compliance.
It may be necessary for you to restrict the kind of work performed by summer workers to certain nonhazardous areas of employment in your business.