Ask HR: Rules for Employing Minors?

Dear HR: I want to hire a 17-year-old that has already been working for me through a WorkSource GED program. The job duties include mowing, weed-whacking, gardening, fencing repair, painting, cleaning, etc. What are the rules I need to keep in mind when moving forward with hiring a minor?

A. First, and most importantly, an Oregon employer who hires minors 14 through 17 years of age must apply to the Bureau of Labor and Industries [BOLI] for an annual Employment Certificate EACH YEAR.  (Employment of minors under 14 requires an additional permit.) The employer must retain the validated Employment Certificate during the period for which it is issued and ensure that it remains posted in a conspicuous place where all employees can readily read it. Minors are generally protected by the same laws that protect adults. For details, refer to BOLI’s online information sheet on the Employment of Minors.They must be paid the same minimum wage as adults for all hours worked. Minors are also covered by overtime laws and laws regulating paydays, meal periods, rest breaks, final paychecks, and deductions from wages.

Work hours: there are no limits on the number of hours 16 and 17-year-olds may work in a day. Sixteen and 17-year-olds may work up to 44 hours per week. For minor workers younger than this please refer to the BOLI website for specific regulations that pertain to certain ages.

Several hazardous types of work are completely off-limits for minors. These include the operation of most power-driven machinery, including hoisting, woodworking, and cutting/slicing equipment. Also prohibited are tasks involving exposure to dangerous worksites, such as work in mines, on roofs, and in areas containing radioactive substances. Fourteen and 15-year-olds are subject to greater restrictions and are not permitted to work in or around most kinds of power-driven machinery or on construction sites, in warehouses, or at other locations where power-driven machinery is used.