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Federal Youth Employment Laws

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces federal youth employment laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which aims to prevent oppressive child labor. These laws impose restrictions on the types of work minors can perform, the hours they can work, and set minimum age requirements for employment. Compliance with these regulations can be challenging for employers, especially given the variability between federal and state laws. The FLSA's youth employment protections ensure that minors work in safe environments that do not jeopardize their well-being or educational opportunities. The law outlines specific permissible work activities for different age groups and imposes penalties for violations, which can be severe if they result in injury or death. Employers are encouraged to implement best practices such as establishing workplace policies, training managers, and conducting regular audits to ensure compliance. Click here for article.

  • Federal Youth Employment Regulations: The FLSA sets federal youth employment laws, restricting the type of work and hours minors can work to ensure their safety and educational opportunities. The DOL's Wage and Hour Division enforces these laws.

  • Minimum Age and Work Restrictions: The FLSA establishes minimum age requirements (14 for most non-agricultural work) and prohibits minors from engaging in hazardous occupations. Different rules apply for younger workers (under 14) and those aged 14-15 and 16-17, with specific limitations on permissible work activities and hours.

  • State vs. Federal Laws: Employers must navigate both federal and state youth employment laws, often adhering to the stricter standards when discrepancies arise. Compliance with both sets of regulations is essential to avoid violations.

  • Compliance Strategies: Employers can mitigate risks by establishing clear workplace policies, providing mandatory training for managers, implementing standardized onboarding processes, and conducting regular audits. Best practices include posting required notices and using distinct name tags for minor employees to ensure they are performing appropriate tasks within legal limits.


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