What HR Needs to Know About Summer Employment

Blog Post created by 1002043 on Mar 20, 2017

It’s hard to believe but summer will be here before we know it. Companies often offer summer employment opportunities to high school and college students.  Youth that are under the age of 18 are required by law to have a “youth certificate” which can be obtained online from the NC Department of Labor or from a local NC Department of Social Services office. 


In addition to the required “youth certificate”, there are minimum ages established for different types of employment. The US Department of Labor (USDOL) declares certain jobs to be hazardous (HOs-hazardous occupations) for employees under the age of 18 and under the age of 16. Generally’ youth under the age of 14 may not be employed in any non-agricultural jobs. 


The NC Department of Labor (NCDOL) has its own list of jobs with age restrictions known as Detrimental Occupations that require a minimum age of 18 such as:


  • Any work which involves the risk of falling a distance of 10 feet or more, including the use of ladders and scaffolds (includes construction workers and firefighters and other emergency personnel under 18);


  • Any work as an electrician or electrician's helper [NCDOL position that "electrician's helper" means an employee helping an electrician with live (hot) wires, fuse/breaker boxes, etc. where there is the danger of electrical shock].


One of the Hazardous Occupations (HO) identified for youth under the age of 18 is HO 2: Driving a motor vehicle or work as an outside helper on motor vehicles. This restriction bans operating motor vehicles on public roads and working as outside helpers on motor vehicles. Seventeen-year-olds, however, may drive cars or small trucks during daylight hours for limited times and under strictly limited circumstances. 


This restriction occasionally prompts questions regarding grass cutting jobs, “Are youths of at least 16 years of age allowed to operate riding lawn mowers?” CAI sources from BOTH Departments of Labor (USDOL & NCDOL) have verified that youth who are at least 16 years old are permitted to operate riding lawn mowers as long as they do not get out on public roads. 


For more detailed information regarding restrictions on youth employment, visit this site


In addition to questions about youth employment, CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team often receives questions regarding pay requirements for interns. The USDOL has guidance on this issue (Fact Sheet #71). This fact sheet specifies tests that must be met to exclude interns from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).  The following criteria must be applied when making this determination:


  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;  
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;  
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;  
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded;  
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and  
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. If all of the above factors are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply.


Contact Advice & Resolution if you have questions about youth employment and/or interns.