I Think I'll Hire My Neighbor's Kid
That’s a good thing, right? It gives them a little work, helps you out of a bind, and you already know him. Think hard though because it may not be so good if they are under eighteen. The laws governing under-age workers are strict and plentiful. Before you hire that kid, be sure you know the law and are prepared to follow it.
Here’s one of many reasons why: “Mexican restaurant chain Qdoba has been fined $409,400 by the Massachusetts attorney general (AG) for child labor violations at 22 Bay State locations; the penalties are the largest child labor citations in the history of the AG's office,” a press release from the office noted. Violations included minors working more than 11 hours in a single shift, minors working more than 48 hours per week, minors working later than 10:30 p.m. on a school night and failure to obtain work permits for minor employees.” From: https://www.hrdive.com/news/22-qdobas-hit-with-largest-child-labor-penalties-in-massachusetts-ag-histor
The child labor laws in the United States were implemented in 1938 when the Fair Labor Standards Act was approved. According to that act: Children under eighteen cannot do certain dangerous jobs, and children under sixteen cannot work in manufacturing or mining, or during school hours. The laws since have become even more specific and protective of the safety and well-being of children. If it is your child working in your business, and the work is non-hazardous (not prohibited) and the child works under the parent or custodian’s direct supervision, some of the laws will not apply.
How do you know how the law may apply to your business? The best guide I have found for the State of Texas is: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/texas-child-labor-law. There are jobs that require parent consent forms, those are listed, and the form is on the website as well.
Look at the job you’re thinking about hiring the neighbor kid for. Is it operating machinery, driving, soliciting, working during school hours or at night? All of these are prohibited for 15 and 16 year old. The rules are a little looser for 17 and 18 year old, but common sense still applies.
One important point is these jobs are not one-off, spur of the moment, never to be done again jobs. If you want to hire that kid to haul all the wood you’ve just cut from your truck to the shed - and he/she is not going to have to use an ax - go ahead! The prohibitions are in place when the child is an employee with regular days and hours.