The Fair Labor Standards Act is an important Federal document that prescribes the proper treatment of employees by employers in all different types of business settings. This also includes very strict standards for child employment in order to protect both child employees and child employers from harm. It is crucial for both parties to understand the implications of these regulations for a safe work environment.
The federal regulations set out by the FLSA are intended to protect the rights of employees and therefore, in the case of child employment, the highest degree of protection is always applied. This means that in a state with regulations that are less strict in regards to child employment than Federal regulations, Federal regulations must be applied by an employer. If the individual state regulations are equal to or more stringent than Federal regulations require, those regulations will determine laws regarding proper child employment.
There are certain important points within the FLSA that should be accounted for in every work environment. A work permit is not required by the FSLA, though some states may require an age certificate. Youth must be paid at least minimum wage for any type of work. Minimum wage laws must be applied in all situations including tipped wage employment regulations. Also, any overtime work must be compensated at a rate of at least one and a half times the standard rate of pay, even if that rate is above minimum wage. Employers are required to keep proper records of all youth employees just as they would for adult employees. This includes contracts, records of hours worked, and any other appropriate documentation.
There are very specific jobs that can and can not be held at different ages by children. These jobs are clearly set out by the FLSA, but there are a few allowable and restricted jobs of note. At age 13 or younger, a child may deliver newspapers, be a baby-sitter or actor, or work for any business completely owned and operated by their parents. At the age of 14, a child may work in an office, grocery store, retail store, amusement park, or gas station along with other specific places, but a 14 year old child may not work public utilities jobs, construction or door-to-door sales among other jobs. When a child is 16, they may work any job not declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor, which includes many jobs involving powered machinery or vehicle operation.
Once a child turns 18, they may apply to any job as an adult employee. At this age they are no longer regulated as a child employee, even though certain companies may have age and experience requirements that disallow them from holding a position.