Youth WorkersMany highschoolers may be thinking about obtaining a job which would provide a revenue stream beyond mom and dad. If you or someone you know has a teenager looking for employment or a teenager who is currently employed, you may want to note the protections provided to this unique class of employees. In Michigan, the Youth Employment Standards Act[i] outlines the protections offered to teenagers who decide to enter the workforce. Additionally, various other federal regulations may be applicable depending on the age of the individual and type of work performed.

According to the Youth Employment Standards Act, certain occupations, including those that are hazardous or injurious to a minor, are off-limits to those individuals under age 18. Additionally, unless one of serval exceptions apply, a typical minor cannot be employed until reaching the age of 14. For those teenagers who have reached the appropriate age and have found a suitable job, a work permit must be obtained which provides proof of the minor’s age, states the nature of the employment sought, and outlines the typical hours and pay schedule.

The Youth Employment Standards Act also outlines the weekly hour limitations for those under age 18, including the times that such a person may work and how many hours per week are permissible. Of particular interest for those summer jobseekers are the provisions modifying the allowable start and end times as well as weekly maximum hour requirements during the summer months. The ability for minors to work additional hours during the summer leads to a higher earning potential! Regardless of the time of year, in no event should a minor be employed for more than 5 hours without at least a 30-minute break.

While the Youth Employment Standards Act includes many additional restrictions and protections, it also outlines the criminal penalties an employer may face for violations of the act. Notably, while most violations could result in a misdemeanor punishable by fines and imprisonment for nor more than one-year, other violations are felonies, punishable by imprisonment for nor more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.

One final (and extremely interesting) provision of the Youth Employment Standards Act can be found in MCL 409.118a, which states “This act does not apply to a minor in his or her capacity as an ice hockey player for a junior ice hockey team that is a member of a regional, national, or international junior ice hockey league.” Certainly, such a provision must have an interesting backstory leading up to its inclusion in an Act regulating the employment of minors, and begs the question of whether other sports would qualify for similar exceptions.


[i]The entire text of the Youth Employment Standards Act can be found within MCL 409.101-409.124. Provisions of this act were used in creation of this article.


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