Summer Help Wanted – Tips For Employing Minors

Summer Help Wanted: Tips for Employing Minors
By Michelle Sedgwick

Like one of my favorite old song croons, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”. Well, at least until it’s time to hire workers for the summer. School will be out soon and having young workers brings a chance to add enthusiasm and energy to the workplace as well as an opportunity to provide our future workforce with work experience.
In California, a minor is defined as “people who have not reached the age of 18 and are required to attend school.” The only exception is for employees under 18 years of age who have graduated from high school or hold a GED. Before you put hiring plans in place for the summer months, make sure you understand these guidelines for hiring minors:

Work Permits
o All workers under 18 are required to have work permits from their school or school district office. Even if a minor had obtained a permit in the past for a previous employer, they will need a permit to work for your organization. Permits are specific to each workplace and employers must retain the permit until the beginning of the fourth year after the permit was issued.

Notices and Records
o Employers are required to post a notice with the maximum number of hours that minors can work. Similar to other required workplace posters, it must be in a conspicuous location.
o In addition to work permits, it is necessary for employers to maintain records with the names, birthdates, addresses, time records and payroll records for minors. These records should be retained for 3 years.

Work Hours
o Unlike other employees, working teens are not allowed by law to work more than 8 hours in one day. There are specific rules for working hours based on ages.

  • Ages 16 and 17: are allowed to work 5am – 10pm where there is school the next day and until 12:30am if there is no school the next day. When school is out for the summer, 48 hours per week is the limit.
  • Ages 14 and 15: are allowed to work 7am – 9pm from June 1st through Labor Day and only until 7pm after Labor Day. When school is in session, there are other specific work hour requirements.

There are additional working hour restrictions for employees under 14 years of age.

Hazardous Jobs
Minors are prohibited from working in hazardous jobs, including industries such as meatpacking, mining, logging, roofing, demolition, and pipe or brick manufacturing.

Work Duties
o Minors cannot operate certain machinery such as meat slicers, bakery machines, wood and metal working machines, forklifts and various saws.
o Employees under 21 years old may not work on premises used primarily for the sale or service of alcoholic beverages. If they are at least 18 years old, they may serve alcohol in an eating establishment, but only in the areas used for selling and serving food (17 year old bartenders not allowed).

Restricted Driving
o Although 17 year olds can drive as part of their work responsibilities, they are limited to driving during daylight hours and for only up to one-third of their work time in a day or 20 percent in a week.
o Teenagers are prohibited from using cell phones, including hands free while driving.

o Remember that part of being able to provide work opportunities to a future generation of workers requires training.
o To ensure a safe work environment, demonstrate the proper use of equipment, work hazards and how to handle emergencies.

o Children in self-employed roles such as babysitting and yard work are not covered under child labor laws. Children working for their parents in manufacturing, retail or other businesses are required, however, to obtain work permits.

SDEA can help with all of your questions about hiring minors during the summer months and throughout the year. Call us at (858) 505-0024 or email

Contact us: 858.505.0024