Special rules apply when hiring minors: summer help can fill in for vacationing employees

May 4, 2016|Amy Bradley

As the weather turns warm, employees are starting to book their vacations. How will you get all the work done when your employees are on vacation? One way is to hire summer help, which could include high school and college kids.

If these workers are minors, you need to be concerned about special rules. Minors under the age of 16 need work permits. Depending on their age, they may need a meal break and be subject to restrictions on the number of hours they can work each day and the duties they perform.

To obtain a work permit, minors need to take evidence of their age (like a state ID, birth certificate, or a certificate of baptism), their Social Security card, a letter from their employer, and a consent letter from a parent, guardian or foster parent. The work permit costs $10, which is the employer’s responsibility to pay. You have the option to provide the minor with the money to pay for the work permit upfront or you may opt to have them pay it themselves and then reimburse them. If you choose to reimburse the minor, you must do so by the date of the first paycheck.

The letter from the employer must state the intention to employ the minor. In addition to job duties, it must describe the time of day and the hours the person will be working. It must be signed by the employer or someone duly authorized by the employer.

A child labor work permit does not allow the employment of a minor in prohibited work and does not protect the employer if it allows the minor to do any work prohibited by statute or restricted by order.

Depending on the age of the minor, there could be restrictions on the time of day and the maximum number of hours per day or week the person can work. All minors are required to have a 30-minute duty-free meal period after six hours of consecutive work in a day.

For employees under the age of 20, you can take advantage of the $5.90 per hour opportunity wage for the first 90 days of employment. Starting on day 91, you must pay at least $7.25 per hour.

Most of the information in this article applies to employing minors in Wisconsin. Contact your Schenck payroll specialist for information about the requirements of other states, or for a full list of Wisconsin requirements. For more Wisconsin information, visit the DWD (Department of Workforce Development) Child Labor website.


Amy Bradley, CPP, Operations Lead - Payroll, is responsible for firm-wide research on payroll-related issues. Amy has 30 years of payroll experience, including work with multi-state and multi-employer payrolls.