Rules for hiring students

Many companies supplement their staffs in the summer by hiring high school students. If you plan to hire youths this summer, there are rules to keep in mind. The U.S. Department of Labor has the responsibility to set and administer federal labor laws affecting work hours and also the types of jobs youths can perform. The Illinois Department of Labor also has requirements which must be met when hiring youths.

As with all labor laws, the employer must follow the law that best benefits or protects the worker.

Rules applying to 14- and 15-year-olds during the summer months, defined as June 1 through Labor Day, include:

• No work in manufacturing is allowed.

• No more than 40 hours each week (Illinois allows 48 hours)

• Hours must be scheduled between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

• In Illinois, no more than six consecutive days of work in a work week.

• In Illinois, a meal period of at least 30 minutes must be provided no later than the fifth consecutive hour of work.

• A notice with the hours of work and meal period must be posted.

• In Illinois, a notice describing the work to be done and the hours of work must be presented to the youths who must obtain work-permits from their school principal.

• The youth must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during hiring process.

Teens ages 16 and 17 are not restricted in the number of hours they are allowed to work nor do they need specific work permits.

All students under the age of 18 are prevented from performing hazardous work or working around machinery. Hazardous work includes mining and many areas of manufacturing, deli counters and butcher shops. Other rules apply to agriculture and golf courses.

The lists restricting various types of work for youths under the age of 18 can be found at the Illinois Department of Labor and the US Department of Labor websites – Illinois DOL Fact Sheet:; U.S. DOL Fact Sheet:

Most employers would be wise to check with their insurance broker or read their business insurance policy closely since many policies will not allow people under a certain age, usually 18, in the workplace.

Check your group health plan to learn if a waiver of coverage is needed for a summer help employee, especially if the job assignment extends beyond the required waiting period for enrollment.

In Illinois, employers are responsible for workers’ comp insurance from the first day of work. Review your policy for any age restrictions.

Also in Illinois, unemployment may apply should the employment assignment last more than 30 working days. A separate agreement between you and the summer employee will most likely not be recognized by the unemployment office. This most commonly occurs when someone is hired for the summer and decides later to stay in the workplace. The employer may not have a permanent opening and ends the relationship. The terminated employee may be entitled to benefits depending on work and wage history.

Should you decide to continue employing someone hired as summer help, contact your group health provider to learn how to add the employee to the plan. Many group health providers have special provisions for late enrollees.

Employers may be permitted to pay sub-minimum wages to some younger workers; check current minimum wage requirements for details.

• If you need help in understanding or developing employment policies, contact Karla Dobbeck , president of Human Resource Techniques Inc. Call 847-289-4504, or email

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