Male lifeguard on duty at a hotel pool

Guidelines for Hiring Youth Workers

by Carole Cox, PHR, on June 21, 2017
Summer is here and the young workers are waiting to begin work!  This is an opportune time for you to hire some teenage workers and determine which one you would like to retain for the fall rush. 
What will you pay them?
Since we live in Florida, you will be paying each teenager you put to work $8.10 per hour.   Even though the government declares that their minimum wage is $7.25 an hour – Florida trumps the Feds!  When you begin considering what type of worker you will hire, a young worker’s entry-level wages are reasonable, and they are usually more enthusiastic about working for you. Best of all, they usually have parents to support and encourage them to be at work every workday, on time!

You will be surprised that you can afford these young workers.  There is a special wage for ages 14 to 18 for the first 90 consecutive days.  The beginning wage for these youth workers gives you the time you need to train them at a lower wage and you can determine if they will be able to fit into your organization. Their eligibility for the federal minimum wage depends on what you do and where you work.

If a worker is younger than 20 and eligible for the minimum wage, the employer may pay the worker as little as $4.25 per hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of their employment.  This is not limited to the first employer.  Each time a 14 to 18 year old worker changes jobs the next employer can pay young workers this youth minimum wage for the first 90 consecutive calendar days.

What age groups can you hire?
You can hire 16 to 18 year olds as long as they do not drive a car for your business.  Even though they may drive with a driver’s license at 16, they are not allowed to drive for your company. Workers 18 years or older may perform any job whether it is hazardous or not.  A 16 or 17 year old may perform any job that has not been deemed hazardous.  One example of a hazardous job is operating a trash baler or compactor; anyone under the age of 18 are prohibited from operating either one of these devices.

You can even have workers 14 or 15 years old that may work outside school hours in certain specified jobs.  Fourteen is the minimum age for most non-agricultural work.  However, at any age youth may deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions, work in businesses owned by their parents except in mining, manufacturing, or on hazardous jobs and perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home.  Also at any age, youth may be employed as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths. Different age requirements apply to the employment of youth in agriculture.

What if I want this teenager to continue working for me when school reconvenes?
A 14 or 15 year old can work 3 hours in a school day. They can work 18 hours in a school week and 8 hours per day on a non-school week.  They are able to work between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (Except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.).

Some states require work permits or age certificates for young workers.  In fact, most of the age certificates issued to young workers are issued by states.  In addition to state labor departments, school guidance counselors might know if permits or proofs of age certificates are required within their own state. In our area, Alabama requires a job permit that can be obtained from a school office.  The purpose of these certificates is to protect the employer from prosecution for employing an under aged worker.  The possession of an age certificate constitutes a good faith effort to comply with minimum age requirements.

There are certain jobs a 14 to 15 year old worker are allowed to do, including:
  • Retail occupations
  • Intellectual or creative work such as computer programming, teaching, tutoring, singing, acting, or playing an instrument
  • Errands or delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transportation
  • Clean up and yard work which does not include using power driven mowers, cutters, trimmers, edgers, or similar equipment
  • Work in connection with cars and trucks such as dispensing gasoline or oil and washing or hand polishing
  • Some kitchen and food service work including reheating food, washing dishes, cleaning equipment, and limited cooking
  • Cleaning vegetables and fruits, wrapping sealing, and labeling, weighing pricing, and stocking of  items when performed in areas separate from a freezer or meat cooler
  • Loading or unloading objects for use at a worksite including rakes, hand held clippers, and shovels
  • 14 and 15 year olds who meet certain requirements can perform limited tasks in sawmills and woodshops and
  • 15 year olds who meet certain requirements can perform lifeguard duties at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks
If an occupation is not specifically permitted, it is prohibited for youth ages 14 and 15.

Consult your state department of labor for specific information on this issue.  Refer to them to know all the acceptable jobs that youth can perform.  To view a detailed list of the work youth can perform, visit

Hiring youth is a good way to perform the necessary duties of your business while bringing vitality to your organization.  Youthful workers bring promise to your business, add new ideas to its success and you may discover a youth that begins a long-term relationship with your organization.  Investing in a young person can be worth the time it takes to train them in the essentials of making your business successful.
Carole Cox, PHR

Carole Cox serves as an HR Manager at LandrumHR. She has 25 years of experience in corporate, service, & healthcare environments, including a Fortune 500 company. Carole specifically enjoys a focus in employee relations, talent acquisition, employment law compliance, supervisor and employee education, career development and consulting. She earned her Bachelor’s in Education from the U. of South Alabama, and is the past president of the Greater Pensacola Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

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