Given the hazards of the modern workplace, special care is required to protect minor workers andto comply with state and federal laws that regulate child labor.  It is especially important for employers to pay attention to federal laws given that the Department of Labor, which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), takes a dim view of employers that violate FLSAchild labor provisions. TheDOL investigates alleged child labor violationsaggressively and is authorized to fine employers up to $11,000 per violation. 

Approximately 50 percent of working teens are employed in the retail industry, which includes restaurants and clothing and grocery stores. About half of teen occupational injuries occur in theretail environment. Teens routinely are injuredwhile driving vehicles, operating heavy equipment, and using power tools, including food slicers. 

The FLSA, which regulates hours and working conditions for teens, contains provisions designed to protectyouth from the hazards of the workplace. Arizona’s youth employment laws generally are consistent with FLSA provisionsgoverning child labor. 

Fourteen generally is the minimum age for employment under the FLSA. However, there are some jobs that areexempted from the youth employment rules and may be performed by persons younger than 14, such asworking in certain parent-owned businesses. 

Employees who are 14 or 15 are permitted to work outside of school hours in certain jobs, provided their hoursare limited to three hours on school days, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day, and 40hours in a non-school week. Employees in this age group may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. From June1 through Labor Day, employers may extend teen working hours until 9 p.m.  14 and 15-year olds areprohibited from, among other things,driving a motor vehicle or helping a driver. 

Employees who are 16 or 17 may beemployed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the secretary of labor(which includesmost drivingjobs and the operation of mostpower-driven slicing machines).

According to the DOL, employers can keep their minor employees safe and comply with the law by following afew simple steps. 

Conduct FSLA compliance audits.  Employers should run compliance checks to ensure child labor laws arebeing followed. Self-assessment tools for restaurants are available at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov/for-employers/compliance/restaurant/index.htm

Train managers, particularly first-line supervisors.  Make sure to include youth employment laws andcompany policies regarding the employment of teens in training and orientation seminars for managers. 

Require safety training for teen employees. The DOL suggests providing a worksheet for youths to complete aspart of initial training to assess and verify their awareness of what equipment is off limits to them and what hoursthey can work. Other tools to consider include attaching a monthly youth safety reminder to paychecks or timecards and incorporating reminders into regular employee meetings. 

By taking these steps, businesses can be better prepared to manage young workers and avoid possibleproblems in the future.