Hiring Teens This Summer?  Make Sure to Do It Right!

Published by Meg Vergeront on

It has already started--high school students are blanketing employers in their area with applications for summer employment. Are you ready? Most employers know that special rules apply to teenage employees, but it never hurts to review the basics.

The most basic rule is that both federal and Wisconsin have laws and regulations addressing teen employment and Wisconsin employers must comply with whichever law--state or federal--provides the most protection to the teen. Be sure to review both state and federal rules and/or consult with a wage and hour attorney to make sure you get it right.

Employers should also be aware that Wisconsin law requires that teen employees have work permits in most circumstances. The employer generally distributes the permits to the prospective employee to complete and return.

While there is no cap on the number of hours most teens may work during summer while school is out of session, they cannot work more than 6 days in a row and are prohibited from working in certain industries. Be sure to check both state and federal rules to make sure that teen employment is not forbidden in your industry.

Finally, keep in mind that Wisconsin employers may pay youth under 20 years of age a sub-minimum wage of $5.90 per hour for up to the first 90 days of employment. At the end of the 90 days, the youth must be paid the regular minimum wage. The 90-day period will generally cover the majority of the employment of those teens hired solely for summer work. This can add up to significant savings for an employer. Keep in mind that there are rules designed to prevent abuse of this exception, such as a prohibition against displacing a full minimum wage (or higher) employee with a teen being paid sub-minimum wage.

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