The sun is finally shining and the end of school imminent, it is evident summer is here. With the change of seasons comes a rush of teens and college students looking for employment. In July 2012 there were 23.5 million employees between the ages of 16-24. Businesses are smart to take advantage of this influx of economical labor, but it is important to understand the laws that surround hiring summer help.

The laws for hiring young people are dependent on age. Children under 14 may not work, except in very select jobs such as paper delivery, casual childcare, and acting. The following rules apply for children 14-15 years of age:

  • work time must be outside school hours
  • 3 hours a day on school days and 8 hours a day on non-school days
  • 18 hours a week during a school week and 40 hours during a non-school week
  • work hours must fall between 7am and 7pm unless it is June 1 and Labor Day, in which it is extended to 9pm

16- and 17-year-olds can work unlimited hours.
Both state and federal labor laws that govern the hiring of anyone under 18. It is important to note that the more stringent law always applies. Though not a federal requirement, the state of North Carolina requires anyone under 18 to have a work permit. A new addition to NC requirements is the following: 14- and 15-year-olds may prepare food, but may not bake, cook over an open flame, or use manual deep fat fryers.

The benefits of hiring summer employees are numerous. It is more economical for an employer than a normal full-time employee. They can complete tedious and low-priority tasks that are still important to the company. For example, a doctor’s office that needs to scan paper charts can pay a teenager to sit at the scanner all day for a fraction of what they would pay a regular employee. It is also helpful to have extra bodies during the time when multiple employees take vacation. Productivity will not be hampered by a skeleton staff, and there will not be a backlog of work once full time employees return to work. It is also important to realize the long-term effect having summer help can have on a business. Forming relationships with high school and college students can lead to outstanding full time employees that are comfortable and familiar with the company once they have completed school.

Using summer employees is beneficial on many levels. However, it can also cause major problems for a business that does not follow the applicable laws. Consult an attorney if your company is considering the possibility of summer help. It is vital to know the regulations about benefits, wages, and age related laws. Violations can be very costly with penalties up to $11,000 per child, per violation. For repeat offenders or those that cause injury or death, fines can be up to $100,000. Protect yourself by allowing an attorney to guide you through the ins and outs of hiring young people.

Another alternative is hiring summer interns. For more information read Understanding the Legal Issues of Unpaid Interns.

Sources:Child Labor in Nonagricultural Occupations in North Carolina. (n.d.) NC Department of Labor. Retrieved on May 15, 2013 from

Employment and Unemployment Amount Youth Summary. (August 21, 2012.) Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved on May 15, 2013 from

Fact Sheet #43: Youth Employee Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act for Nonagricultural Occupations. (July 2010).Department of Labor. Retrieved on May 15, 2013 from