We often hear complaints from employers that teenage workers lack soft skills, such as showing up for work on time, working well in a team, dressing appropriately, etc.
These are traits that most people can only develop through on-the-job experience.
One way that younger workers can learn these important skills is by getting a part-time job while they are in school.
Teenagers who are given opportunities to work while they are young benefit from having a job — but businesses can benefit also!
Check out our great guide to hiring people under the age of 18!
First steps for hiring teenagers:
First of all, your business license has to have a Minor Work Permit endorsement for you to qualify to hire teens. You apply for this through Washington’s Department of Revenue.
Secondly, the teen you hire must have a completed and authorized Parent/School Authorization for to give you. This is specific to your job.
Be sure to also obtain proof of their age, such as a birth certificate or driver’s license.
Restrictions on working teenagers:
The Department of Labor & Industries oversees the rules for teens with jobs.
Based on their age and whether they are in school, teenagers are restricted to how many:
- Hours they work per day
- Hours they work per week
- Days they work in a week
Teenagers’ start and stop times are also included in these restrictions.
Additionally, there are certain duties that teens are prohibited from performing. They are not allowed to drive a car to make deliveries, drive a forklift, or work more than 10 feet off the ground.
A complete list of prohibited duties for teens can be found on L&I’s website.
Wages & breaktimes for teenagers:
Minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds is the same as it is for adults ($9.47).
However, for 14 and 15 year olds, you may pay 85% of the state minimum wage ($8.05). The reasoning behind this reduced minimum wage is that 14 and 15 year olds will require a lot more supervision and mentoring.
Standard meal and rest break rules are the same for all workers above the age of 15. However, employees 15 and under have stricter requirements. They must be given:
- A 30 minute break within 4 hours of work
- A paid 10 minute rest break for every two hours worked.
Supervising teenage workers:
It’s common sense that teens will require more supervision. But in some cases, supervision is a legal requirement.
Minors cannot work alone past 8:00 p.m. unless they are being supervised in person by someone 18 or older.
Important exceptions for teenage workers:
If a 16 or 17 year old is a parent, married, or has their GED, the restrictions on hours is lifted. Also, L&I has a process to request a variance to the hours rules.
The Parent/School Authorization form has a section to file the request. All parties, including the school, must agree that:
- There is good cause for the minor to work (for example: good cause could be a family’s financial needs)
- The work will not harm the minor
One of the more interesting exceptions for teenage workers allows children under the ager of 14 to be employed in their parents’ business. This requires permission from the county superior court.
Hiring teens improves the entire workforce:
Studies have shown that Millennials often lack any work experience, because they focused on school and extra-curricular activities. Many professionals believe this contributes to their lack of soft skills when they enter the workforce.
Giving more opportunities to teens to gain work experience appears to pay off in the long run for employers.
Employing teenagers may involve a bit more effort, but it results in a more prepared workforce — and that’s a win for everybody!