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Managing Compliance Challenges Related to Minors in the Workplace

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A teenage boy carrying a tray of produce to stock shelves
These days, when employers in the food and beverage, retail and hospitality industries struggle to find talent in an increasingly competitive labor market, minors often fill the gaps. Minors as young as 14 can perform roles such as barista, cashier, theater usher and more, helping employers stay fully staffed during the summer and year-round.

Though it may be relatively easy to hire minors, it can be challenging to manage their schedules. Requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) limit the days and hours minors can work, creating compliance and administrative headaches for employers. Thankfully, workforce scheduling solutions can make managing compliance for minors in the workplace far less manual and more streamlined than ever before.

The Challenges of Managing Compliance For Minors in the Workplace

Employing minors comes with additional compliance requirements that don’t apply to adult employees. To avoid non-compliance penalties that can be as high as $10,000 per offense, you will need to have a plan for overcoming challenges related to scheduling, tracking time and attendance, and complying with federal and state child labor laws.

FLSA Compliance
Perhaps the most critical scheduling challenge you may encounter when employing minors is related to Fair Labor Standards Act compliance. The FLSA governs work practices such as minimum wage and overtime requirements, and it also sets strict standards for when and how minors can work.

The FLSA requires employers of 14- and 15-year-olds to limit their working hours to no more than three hours on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day. There are also limitations to how many hours 14- and 15-year-olds may work per week. For 16- and 17-year-olds, there are no working hour restrictions, but there are some jobs the FLSA deems hazardous that are off-limits to minors of any age.

The FLSA serves to prevent exploitation and unnecessary injury to children in the workplace. However, it can be challenging for employers due to the need to track minors’ working hours on school and non-school days. If you employ minors, you not only need a way to ensure their working hours don’t exceed allowable limits, but also a way to distinguish between school and non-school days.

If you’re scheduling minors manually, you can easily get lost in a sea of varying school calendars and work schedules. For example, if you have minors who work during the school year but attend different schools, their holiday schedules may not be the same. So, Columbus Day could be a school day for one student and a non-school day for another. Without a system that allows you to see which days are school days, you could mistakenly schedule minors for more hours than the FLSA allows.

State Wage and Hour Law Compliance
According to a compilation of state data by the Department of Labor, just about every U.S. state has specific child labor laws that limit working hours for minors. Some state laws go further than FLSA requirements. For example, the FLSA does not set working hour limits for 16- and 17-year-olds, but many states do, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Washington. In Connecticut, working hour limits for minors vary by industry. To keep schedules in compliance, you must balance the applicable state requirements with federal guidelines.

How Scheduling Software Boosts Compliance When Managing Minors

In summer 2021, as the Great Resignation among adults got into full swing, summer employment for minors reached levels not seen since 2008—32 percent of all teenagers. Minors can provide your business with a pool of employees who are eager and ready to learn. Although they typically aren’t as experienced as adults and haven’t completed their education, they can be an excellent source of talent to fill entry-level positions and work variable shifts on a seasonal or temporary basis.

Hiring minors doesn’t mean you must automatically endure the stress of managing compliance with child labor laws. Whether your business routinely hires minors during the summer or throughout the school year, you can take advantage of the following compliance and automation benefits that workforce scheduling software has to offer:

Automated Use of Birth Year to Guide Scheduling
When you need to create schedules for multiple employees across varying shifts and times of the year, manually differentiating between minors and adults can be time-consuming and error-prone. A workforce scheduler for minors saves you time by using birth year to identify which employees are subject to child labor restrictions. Not only can the solution help you identify which labor laws apply to employees according to their age, but it also adjusts when employees’ work eligibility changes as they turn 16, 17 or 18.

School Calendar-Based Scheduling Capability
A workforce scheduling solution that stores school schedules makes it easy to differentiate between school days and non-school days. As a result, you will automatically know which hours your minor employees are legally allowed to work on any given day. Instead of asking about when summer break begins or trying to determine who can work over spring break, you can look to your workforce scheduling solution for answers and create schedules in advance.

Customized Work Rules
Managing compliance is easier when you have a scheduling solution that aligns with internal work rules and federal and state laws. Dynamic workforce scheduling technology configures to match your policies, including who can work on school days, non-school days and public holidays. It can also send notifications if any scheduling parameters—for example, overtime—fall outside the rules you’ve established in the system. With a customizable solution that meets your needs, you don’t have to change your processes to fit the technology. Instead, the technology conforms to help you manage your business more efficiently.

Approach Scheduling of Minors with Confidence

When you operate a business that relies on employing minors, staying in compliance with child labor laws can mean the difference between smooth workforce management and costly non-compliance penalties. Depending on the age of your minor employees, scheduling just one hour over the allowable limit can push your business out of compliance with the FLSA and applicable state labor laws. It could also increase your risk of fines or legal action in the event of a Department of Labor audit.

To save you the time, expenses, and frustration of non-compliance, today’s modern workforce scheduling solutions can determine which days and hours your minor employees can work. Instead of being dependent on spreadsheets, managing compliance for minor employment can be fully automated. For more information, read about the TCP Humanity scheduling solutions that make managing compliance with child labor laws a breeze.
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