The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that establishes the guidelines employers must follow when dealing with employees. Many states also have laws governing labor relations, and whenever an employee is subject to both state and federal statutes, the law providing the higher of the two standards prevails. The U.S. Department of Labor provides regulations for the employment of all workers under the age of 18, with specific regulations for those who are 17 years of age.
Allowed Occupations and Work Hours
There are 17 jobs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor deems too hazardous for anyone under the age of 18. A 17-year-old may work at any job that is not one of these dangerous occupations. She has no restriction on the number of hours worked or the times worked.
No employee below the age of 18 should be involved with the manufacture, storage, or movement of explosives. Except as provided for occasional driving, minors should not be employed as drivers or drivers' helpers. Minors are not to be hired to work in or around a coal mine, fight forest fires, work as a logger or work in a sawmill. If the employee is under the age of 18, he should not operate a power machine with dangerous moving parts in a manufacturing setting. Minors are not to work in jobs that involve exposure to radiation. Minors should not work with hoisting equipment. A 17-year-old employee should not be involved in demolition work. They are not to work on or in the immediate vicinity of roofing operations.
Exception for Occasional Driving
An employee aged 17 or above may operate a truck or automobile occasionally as part of his work duties if certain conditions are met. The vehicle must have a gross weight of 6,000 pounds or less and be equipped with appropriate restraint devices for all passengers as well as the driver. The driver must have a valid license, graduated from an approved course in driving education and no moving violations on his record when hired. The driver cannot tow a vehicle, work a sales or delivery route, transport for hire passengers, goods or property, make deliveries of a time-sensitive or urgent nature or transport more than three passengers at the same time. All driving must be done during daylight hours and within 30 miles of his employment location.
Exception for Balers and Compactors
A 17-year-old employee may load power box compactors or paper bales if certain provisions are met. He cannot unload or operate such a machine. The compactor or baler must have a secure on-off switch that utilizes a key or other control. The switch must remain in the "off" position when not in use. Only employees over the age of 18 may control the system.
An employee who has not yet reached the age of 20 may be paid as little as $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of his employment with the same employer. If he turns 20 or remains with the employer for more than 90 days, the employer must pay him at least the legal minimum wage.
Records Employers Must Keep
Employers must maintain records for all employees aged 19 or younger that includes their birthdates, daily start and stop times, hours worked weekly and daily and the occupations in which they were engaged.
Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.