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Employee rights for workers aged 14 to 18

Now that many teens and young adults in Oakland County are done with school for the summer, they may be in search of a summer job. Whether that seasonal position involves an internship, tipped work, or hourly retail work, young workers still have key employee rights under the law. Most of the time, local employers abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as numerous other laws and regulations, in order to keep workers of all ages safe and fairly compensated. Not every employer follows the law, though, and those affected by unscrupulous practices may want to contact an employment law attorney.

According to the United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, there are important restrictions on how long younger employees can work. Specifically, when it comes to non-farm labor, those who are at least 18 years of age can perform both non-hazardous and hazardous work without hour restrictions. However, teens who are 16 or 17 can only perform non-hazardous jobs for unlimited hours. Thus, a teen whose boss urges them to perform a hazardous job may be working for a non-law-abiding employer. There are specific definitions on what constitutes "hazardous;" speaking with an employment lawyer can help clarify a situation.

For teens aged 14 or 15, the rules are understandably a bit more stringent. For example, the work done by those in this age group must be performed outside of school hours and in categories which exclude manufacturing, hazardous jobs, and mining jobs. In addition, those aged 14 and 15 must keep their hours to no more than 18 in a week, eight on non-school days and no more than three on school days. During non-school weeks, teens in this age group cannot work more than 40 hours. Before June 1 and after Labor Day, work cannot start for teens in this group before 7 a.m. or end after 7 p.m. During the summer, the end time for work is extended to 9 p.m. for this group.

These are just a few of the many regulations pertaining to non-farm work for teenagers. Other issues such as unpaid overtime, minimum hourly pay, and so on may also be relevant for young locals earning money during the summer. For legal advice and guidance on how to deal with a potentially unlawful situation, teen workers and their families may find it helpful to seek out a licensed attorney.

Source: United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, "Nonagricultural Jobs (Child Labor)," accessed May 23, 2016

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