With summer fast approaching, teens are trying to find jobs. Or parents are hoping their teen finds a job. However, child labor laws have changed.
The work you may have done to earn cash may not be legal for kids to do now. In fact, if you let your child violate a labor law, you could even go to jail.
Mowing is one of the first jobs a lot of us can remember. But, if you're thinking it sounds like the perfect way to raise summer cash keep this in mind.
Kevin Livezey, Lawn Pros Operations Manager said, "Our insurance company really doesn't like us to hire any kids that are less than 18 years of age."
Livezey said they don't hire anyone younger than 18 for their yard crews because child labor laws are so specific about the equipment teens can and cannot use.
To be employed in lawn care, the government requires you be at least 16-years old to operate a power trimmer or a lawn mower. You can't handle chemicals until you're 18, and the hours you can work are limited.
"If they want to be in this field they can come work in the garden center until they're 18 and once they're 18 we can get them on a crew," said Livezey.
Hy-Vee is one of the companies that's also changed its hiring policies because of child labor laws. They used to hire 14 and 15 year olds, but now you have to be at least 16.
"If they can only work three hours in a day and if they work one minute over, we're actually in violation of the law and it really became something that was very tough for us," said Hy-Veestore director Dan Vondrak.
Work hours aren't the only constraints in grocery stores. Hy-Vee employs 16 and 17-year-olds as baggers and checkers. To work in other departments, you need to be 18. That's the age required by law to operate power driven processing equipment, like meat slicers and knives.
Vondrak said, " Up front we don't have that machinery. It's a lot easier and its a great way to actually get them interacting with the customer early and it kind of breaks them in. And they might end up going into a department later on as they get a little bit older."
Even fast food restaurants are limiting who they hire, because of some of the equipment used, like mixers and fryers. State and federal officials say the reason for restrictions is safety.
Diane Neri, Co-Director IowaWORKS Greater Siouxland said, "There's cleaning chemicals that they're not able to use. There's machinery. There's really a lot of things 14 and 15 year olds are not allowed to use. 16 and 17, then there's a little bit more leeway and then 18 and above there's no restrictions."
If employers don't follow the rules, they could be fined thousands of dollars by the state and federal government, even face time in prison. And in Iowa, a parent who knowingly permits a child to violate the labor law could be criminally charged.
"The purpose of the law is to keep the youth safe and have them work in occupations or in jobs that will be safe for them, because they're young," said Neri.
And since the laws can vary from state to state, Neri urges employers to read the rules... before they hire.
If you'd like more information about the child labor laws in all three Siouxland states click below.
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