Tips for Hiring Teens

The stores are filled with Back to School supplies.  Summer is almost over, and before we know it, the kids will be hitting the books.

Many high school students would like to have a job while they’re going to school.  Businesses often are interested in hiring teens, in order to have access to an eager, yet relatively low paid, labor pool.  In fact, this summer, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, teen employment was up 13.2% over last summer.

If this is a talent pool that you want to access, there are a few things you need to know.

What you need to know about hiring teens:

First of all, if you are going to hire minors in your business, you need to be sure your Master Business License has a Minor Work Permit endorsement (just take a look at the copy posted in your business place).  If it does not, you can apply for it through the state’s website.

The student only needs to have the school’s permission during the school year, not in the summer.  However, you should have the student bring a completed Parent/School Authorization form to you, filled out by their parent.  You are required to keep this form on file.

Important info about hiring 14 or 15 year olds:

  • You may pay them 85% of minimum wage.  Minimum wage is currently $8.67, so you could pay them $7.37
  • You must give them a 30 minute uninterrupted meal break after they work 4 hours and a paid 10 minute break for every 2 hours they work
  • During the school year, they can work up to 6 days a week (not to exceed 16 hours), between 7 am and 7 pm
  • There are duties that this age group is prohibited from doing, including construction, manufacturing, house-to-house sales, cooking, operating power driven machinery, loading trucks, and several others

 Important info about hiring 16 or 17 year olds:

  • You must pay them at least minimum wage
  • During the school year they can work 6 days a week, up to 28 hours, between the hours of 7 am 10 pm on school days, and up until midnight on weekends
  • Students can get a special variance from the school which allows them to work up to 28 hours per week and 6 – 8 hours per day.
  • This age group is prohibited from performing certain functions, including working after 8 pm without adult supervision, many construction related activities, regular delivery driving, being nurses aides, or selling items on a public roadway

It’s important for you to realize that the rules about hours do change during the school year.  If you want more detailed information about hiring teen workers, you can visit Labor & Industries’ website  Also, be sure that you maintain verification on file of the employee’s age through a birth certificate, copy of their driver’s license or a witnessed statement by their parent.

The wrap-up:

It’s very important for you to be realistic about your expectations for these young workers.  Sure, you may get to pay them less, but it’s likely you’ll cancel out that savings compensating your company for the extra time it will take for you to coach and mentor a young worker.

You may be giving a teenager their first job opportunity.  This is a great time to teach them important lessons about the workplace.  They may need coaching on attendance, teamwork, attitude, work ethic, demeanor, communication and other workplace skills.

This can be both a challenging and rewarding experience, for you and the teenage worker.  All of us can probably remember our first job and the person who mentored us. Good luck to you and your new employees, as you take a couple young people under your wing!

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