Hiring Employees Under 18 – Know the Laws Regarding Child Labor

As summer approaches and schools are close to letting out for summer vacation, many employers will be hiring teenagers to do summer work. But before hiring an employee who is not yet 18 years old, it is very important for employers to familiarize themselves with child labor laws to ensure they remain in compliance and avoid potential penalties.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), provides some work limitations based on the age of the minor employee:

  • Under 14 years old: generally cannot perform any work (outside of a few exceptions such as newspaper delivery and casual babysitting).
  • 14-15 years old: only permitted to work in specified occupations (such as retail and some kitchen and food service – for a full list of permitted occupations click here). There are also restrictions regarding hours that employees 14 and 15 years old can work:
    • No work can be performed during school hours,
    • No more than 3 hours of work on school days (including Fridays),
    • No more than 18 hours per week during the school year,
    • No more than 8 hours per day during school breaks,
    • No more than 40 hours per week during school breaks,
    • No work before 7 am or after 7 pm (except between June 1st and Labor Day when the nighttime limitation is extended to 9 pm).
  • 16-17 years old: can work unlimited hours with no restrictions or limitations in any job other than those designated as hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. For a list of hazardous jobs, click here.
  • There are separate rules for minors working in the agricultural industry. For more information about those rules, click here.

The FLSA permits employers to pay employees younger than 20 years old less than the regular federal minimum wage for their first 90 days of employment (consecutive calendar days). The current federal youth minimum wage is $4.25 per hour.

The FLSA does not require minors to obtain a work permit to begin employment, however many states have laws that do require work permits.

In addition, many states have their own rules regarding child labor addressing items such as required meal or rest breaks and/or restrictions on hours worked. It is very important to be aware of all applicable state laws in addition to the rules established under the FLSA. For more information regarding state specific laws, click here.

Employees Working Unauthorized Overtime

If an employee is working overtime without permission from a manager, what options do you have as the employer?

Under federal law (The Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA), if a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek they must be compensated at a rate of one and one half times their regular hourly rate for all hours over 40 in the week. If an employee is working, they must be paid for all time worked, even if the hours were not authorized by management. For example, if an employee is scheduled for 40 hours and works 46 hours, but the 6 hours of overtime weren’t approved by the employee’s manager, the employee must still be paid for all 46 hours worked.  Continue reading

Rules for Meal and Rest Periods

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAcafe-675219_1920) does not require that employers provide any rest or meal breaks to employees other than for nursing mothers. However, if an employer decides to offer these breaks to their employees, the FLSA does provide some rules that must be followed:

  • Breaks of a short duration (typically 20 minutes or less) should be paid breaks that are counted as time worked and should be included in the total hours calculation for overtime purposes. This includes restroom breaks, breaks to get a beverage, smoke breaks, etc.
  • Meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) can be omitted from total hours worked and can be unpaid breaks when an employee is relieved of all job responsibilities for the duration of the break.

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New Overtime Rule Halted by Federal Judge

In a surprising move, the new overtime rule, scheduled to raise the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees on December 1, 2016, has been blocked by Texas Judge Amos L. Mazzant III just ten days before the scheduled effective date.

After the new rule was announced, usdol_seal_circa_2015_svg21 states filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor. The case was consolidated with another lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups which also objected to the new regulation.

Even after the lawsuits were filed and consolidated, it was not expected that a decision would be made prior the December 1st effective date.  Many are surprised by the decision made by Judge Mazzant who was appointed by President Obama.

The decision to block the rule, a preliminary injunction, doesn’t completely eliminate the rule, but rather delays the implementation until the court has a chance to further review whether the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by raising the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees too high.  There is a chance, especially after president-elect Donald Trump takes office, that the rule could be overhauled or eliminated completely, but employers should prepare for the chance that the rule is implemented in the future.

At this time, and until further notice, the minimum salary for exempt employees will remain at $455 per week instead of changing to the scheduled $913 per week on December 1st.

3 Common Myths Concerning Exempt and Salary Employees

With the new minimum salary threshold for exempt employees taking place later this year (Read more about that here), employers should concentrate on mausdol_seal_circa_2015_svgking sure they are in compliance with the new rules and also confirm that their exempt employees are correctly classified.  In addition, employers should make sure they fully understand how exempt employees should be paid.

To help employers with understanding payment of exempt employees, we’re debunking three common myths associated with exempt and salary employees.

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New Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees

UPDATE: November 22, 2016 – A federal judge has delayed the new overtime rule. At this time it is not known how long the rule will be delayed or if the new rule will be enforced at all in the future.  The minimum salary threshold for exempt employees will remain at $455 per week until further notice.

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The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued the much anticipated final rules regarding overtime for salary employees.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the minimum pay for exempt employees is currently $455 per week (or $23,660 per year). Under the new rule, effective December 1, 2016, the minimum pay will increase to $913 per week (or $47,476 per year). The salary threshold will automatically be updated every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020, based on average wage growth.

An added provision of the new rule is the ability for employers to include nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, including commissions, up to 10 percent of gross wages, to meet the minimum salary requirements. For example, if an employee is paid $44,000 base salary and receives a bonus of $4,000 per year (less than 10% of their gross annual salary), they could still be considered exempt under the new rule because their total compensation ($48,000) is higher than the new salary threshold.

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Plan Ahead for Changes to Overtime Pay Rules

1428638_61478545It’s been about six months since the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division issued its proposed updated on overtime rules. Specifically, the agency has suggested revisions to the definition of which employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements and which are not (referred to as the “white collar exemption”).

the proposal elicited 264,093 responses during the two-month comment period. There’s no way to know how much, if any, of this feedback will find its way into the final rules, which should go into effect sometime next year. So it’s prudent to plan ahead.

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