Hiring the neighborhood kid to come over and mow your lawn every week may sound like a great idea for both you and the neighbor; but be careful before you hire a teenager to perform even the simplest of tasks. If you are hiring someone under the age of 18 for a job around the home or a workplace, there are some important things you need to be aware of.
One way to protect yourself against potential liability is to request a certificate of insurance or proof of Workers' Compensation Insurance to make sure each person you hire is properly covered in case they are injured on your property whether or not through your negligence. However, depending how that painting or landscaping company has been formed, it may not be required to maintain Workers' Compensation Insurance. The Massachusetts Department of Labor has compiled a great summary on who must have this coverage.
Summer Help for Businesses
Businesses frequently engage in the practice of hiring teenagers to help them during the dog days of summer, when many of their regular, full-time employees enjoy much needed time off. This practice has been found to be beneficial to the teenager who is trying to learn skills as well as to the business. In fact, according to one survey, the outlook for teen employment this year is good, and this summer, it may be easier for teens to find a job.
However, before hiring employees under age 18, businesses should be aware that child labor is regulated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor laws.
Child labor provisions are designed to protect minors by restricting the types of jobs and the number of hours they may work. In Massachusetts, minors between the ages of 9 years and 15 years may work no more than seven hours in a day. Minors over the age of 15 may work full shifts, but the shifts must include breaks, and may not exceed eight hours in a day. In addition, minors under the age of 16 may work for no more than six days a week and may only work between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Both part-time and full-time employees, who are under 18 years of age may not work in certain hazardous setting workplaces. For example these teens under the age of 18 may not operate a forklift or other heavy equipment; they may not handle or serve alcoholic beverages; and they may not work near blast furnaces or in any other potentially dangerous environment. Massachusetts' Department of Labor has dozens of other tips on what employees under the age of 18 can do and cannot do.
Before your business hires a teen employee even for a few hours a week, it is important to familiarize yourself with the many rules and regulations governing teenagers in the workplace, to ensure you are in compliance and to avoid any unforeseen penalties.
We would be happy to answer all of your questions if you are thinking of hiring a minor this summer, either for a basic job at your home or in your business. Contact us at South Shore Law and we can help protect your personal and business interests when hiring a minor.