Hiring workers under age 18 for the summer?


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With staffing shortages an ongoing issue and students out of school, many employers have looked to hiring minors for the summer. If that includes you, you need to familiarize yourself with the unique federal and state labor laws that apply when you employ anyone under the age of 18. This bulletin summarizes certain key restrictions under federal and Ohio law.

Prohibited Occupations

  • Any extremely hazardous occupation is off limits for employees under the age of 18. Among other things, this includes occupations such as slaughtering and meat-packing operations, operating power-driven machines, chemical manufacturing, working in plants that manufacture or store explosives, or operating a meat slicer. 
  • Minors age 14 and 15 are further prohibited from working in manufacturing jobs, working in freezers and meat coolers, working in boiler or engine rooms, loading and unloading delivery trucks, certain cooking activities, all warehouse work except for clerical jobs, and various other dangerous occupations.
  • Employment of a minor under the age of 14 in any capacity is prohibited, with very limited exceptions (e.g., newspaper delivery, certain agricultural enterprises, etc.).

Work hour restrictions

  • All minors under age 18 must receive a 30-minute break for every 5 consecutive hours of work.
  • Even when school is not in session, minors under age 16 can only work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and no more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Additional limitations apply during the school year for all minors.  

Work permits

  • For summer employment, a work permit is not required, but you must obtain: (1) proof of age (meaning a certified copy of the minor’s birth certificate or, if unavailable, another designated acceptable proof of age), and (2) a statement signed by the minor’s parent or guardian consenting to the proposed employment.
  • When school is in session, a schooling certificate (“work permit”) from the superintendent of the school district in which the student resides is required.

Other records

  • Employers must provide minors with a written agreement of the wages to be paid for the work performed. The agreement should clearly outline the job duties to be performed and the hourly rate to be paid.
  • Employers must also maintain a list of minors employed and post the list in a conspicuous place.

If you employ a minor or are considering doing so, it is important to carefully consider all applicable legal restrictions to ensure that your organization’s hiring and employment practices are compliant. You should also make sure that minor employees are properly supervised, and that supervisors are trained and understand their obligations and the various limitations that may apply.

This bulletin includes only a high-level summary[1] of federal and Ohio child labor law restrictions.  As the penalties for violating these restrictions can be significant, you should consult with legal counsel for any questions.


[1] Different rules may apply to minors working outside Ohio pursuant to applicable state law.

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