If considering a young person for a job, remember minor labor laws

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With high school graduation season upon us, now is a time when you may receive a call or knock on your door from a young person wanting to work on your farm.

Young people often have a desire to work on farms and many are excellent employees. However, as an employer, there are certain rules and regulations you need to be aware of before you decide to hire a young person.

Who is covered?

The employment of minors under 16 is subject to federal requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the agriculture requirements are less stringent than those for other industries. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined that certain jobs in agriculture are hazardous to children under 16.

However, there are some exemptions. These exemptions include the employment of children under 16 when employed on farms owned or operated by their parents or guardians, and those who have completed an approved tractor and machinery certification course.

Completion of a tractor and machinery certification course will legally allow a youth who is 14 or 15 to operate tractors over 20 horsepower for hire to someone other than their parents.

State regs.

In addition to federal hazardous occupation regulations, there can be state regulations which may be more restrictive.

For most Ohio laws, a person under 18 is considered a minor and the Ohio Revised Code prohibits minors from working in certain hazardous jobs related to agriculture.

The Ohio list of hazardous occupations is the same as the federal list, but the Ohio code sections and related regulations say the Ohio hazardous occupation list applies to those under 16.

There are many sections of the Ohio Revised Code pertaining to the employment of minors that do not apply to minors employed on farms. These include obtaining an age and schooling certificate (unless you employ children of migrant workers); keeping a list of minor employees; and paying the minimum wage.

When can minors work? The answer depends upon the employee and whether school is in session. When school is in session, minors who are 14 or 15 cannot be employed before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.; work more than three hours in a school day; work more than 18 hours in any school week; work during school hours, unless employed in a bona fide vocational training program.

When school is not in session, 14- and 15-year-old minors cannot be employed before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; work more than eight hours per day; work more than 40 hours per week.

Those who are 16 and 17 years of age, when school is in session, cannot be employed before 7 a.m. or 6 a.m. if not employed after 8 p.m. the previous night; or after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

There is no limitation in hours per day or week.

When school is not in session, minors 16 and 17 years of age have no limitation on the starting and ending time and no limitation in hours per day or week. All minors are required to have a 30-minute uninterrupted break when working more than five consecutive hours.

Records to keep?

Federal regulations require employers of minors under 16 to maintain and preserve records about each minor employee. This information includes the person’s full name, address of the minor while employed, and date of birth.

Minors employed by a parent or guardian are exempt from these record keeping requirements. The Ohio Revised Code exempts agricultural employers from record keeping provisions related to minors.

However, the Ohio Revised Code requires an agreement as to wages for work to be performed be made between the employer and a minor before employment begins. For the protection of the employer, this agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties.

Using common sense and following a few simple guidelines when employing minors can help you remain in compliance with the laws and protect everyone involved.

For additional information, see Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet Know the Rules When Employing Minors on Your Farm (ANR-26-10) available at http://ohioline.osu.edu or from your local Extension office.

About the Author

(Chris Zoller is an agricultural extension educator in Tuscarawas County and a member of the OSU Extension DairyExcel team.) More Stories by Chris Zoller

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