Michigan Employers and Parents Should Know the Rules to Keep Teens Safe at Work this Summer

May 25, 2016
Detroit, Michigan

$4.25 an Hour for Training Wage Falls Under the Radar

The Michigan economy is still humming along and, according to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, 233,000 teens are expected to find jobs this summer in Michigan.  Kellen T. Myers, an attorney at Detroit-based labor and employment law firm, Nemeth Law, P.C., says summer employment can start teen workers on a lifelong path of good work habits and solid financial footing, but adds that both employers and parents need to understand and follow the legal/safety considerations for teen workers set forth in the Michigan Youth Employment Standards Act.

“There are state laws governing the hours minors (teens under age 18) can work, accessibility to alcohol, use of motorized equipment and handling cash in the evening, just to name a few,” Myers said.  “In general, they are common sense rules that help keep our teens safe at work while also protecting employers from potential liability.”

Myers offers a quick rundown of key guidelines for teen workers:

      • A work permit is required for minors and can be obtained through the child’s school.
      • In the summer, minors aged 16-17 may work between 6:00 am and 11:30 pm.  During the school year, minors aged 16-17 may only work between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:30 pm except on Fridays and Saturdays, when they can work until 11:30 pm. 
      • Minors under 16 years of age may only be employed between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 pm.
      • Minors can’t handle cash after 8:00 pm or sunset (whichever is earlier) unless there is another employee present who is at least 18.
      • Minors can’t sell or serve alcoholic beverages, but a minor over the age of 16 (or age 14 in a retail setting) can work where alcohol is being sold if alcohol doesn’t exceed 50% of sales.
      • The Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (minimum wage law) allows employers to pay minors 85% of the established minimum wage. This means the minimum wage for minors is currently $7.25 (85% of $8.50).
      • Teens under the age of 20 may be paid a “training hourly wage” of $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment.
      • Teens working in amusement or recreational establishments are not entitled to overtime pay if the establishment is not open more than 7 months of the year.
      • A 30 minute rest period is required for minors after five hours of continuous work.
      • Individuals must be at least 18 to operate power-driven equipment such as meat slicers, mixers, saws and motor vehicles, including OSHA and MIOSHA regulated equipment such as forklifts.

Summer also creates employment opportunities for tweens and younger teens to work in a family business, because immediate family members are exempt from minimum age laws when their parents own the business.  There are also exceptions for minors working in farming.  Caddying is considered a safe job and minors as young as 11 are legally allowed to be caddies, but some golf course jobs, such as mowing the greens with huge tractors or retrieving golf balls in a motorized vehicle, can and do result in serious injury or death and individuals must be 18 and trained to perform those jobs.

In reviewing the teen worker rules for this year, Myers notes the $4.25 an hour teen training wage continues to astound him.

“I’m not sure how many employers are able to get teen workers for a ‘training’ hourly wage of $4.25, as the current law allows, but its continued existence in an era of minimum wage demands for $15 an hour is baffling, especially considering that many summer jobs don’t last beyond 90 days,” Myers said.

For more information governing teenage workers, please visit www.michigan.gov.

About Nemeth Law, P.C.

Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.

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