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July 2, 2021

As summer progresses and teens begin or continue their summer jobs, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) wants to remind employers about laws regarding employing young workers.

Early work experience can provide teens with opportunities to learn important job skills, while businesses can benefit from hiring teens to fill open positions and carry out seasonal work.

“Many teens may be entering the workforce for the first time,” said Commissioner Roslyn Robertson. “Teens can play a vital role in the economy, but it’s important they work safely and that employers follow applicable laws.”

Typically, teens are employed in restaurants, parks and recreation, amusement parks or federal or state youth employment programs.

There may be some questions about at what age youth can obtain employment, when they can work during the school year and the summer and what type of work they can perform under the law. These restrictions aim to protect young workers.

The minimum age teens can get a job is 14, unless they have a federal or state exemption that allows them to work at a younger age.

Workers age 15 or younger may not work:

  • before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;

  • more than eight hours a day, except in agriculture;

  • more than 40 hours a week, except in agriculture; and

  • on school days during school hours, without permission from a school district superintendent.

Employers should keep in mind both federal and Minnesota laws govern minor workers. When both laws apply, employers must comply with the law that is most protective to the minor. 

Federal and state laws restrict minors from working in a variety of hazardous jobs or conditions. This includes restricting minors from working in construction, in places where alcohol is served and with certain tools and machinery.

A recent change in state law allows 16- and 17-year-old employees to operate certain power-driven lawn equipment and operate amusement rides. Employers must meet certain conditions before allowing a 16- or 17-year old to operate an amusement ride, including requiring training and supervision by an adult.

Employers should promote safety, health

Although employment of teens provides many benefits, the potential for serious injury and death must not be ignored.

Common injuries include fire or burn injuries and injuries related to vehicle and equipment operation. Common causes of these injuries include lack of adequate equipment, training, inadequate supervision and no established work safety policies.

Teen workers should ask questions and take safety seriously, as well as know they have a right to refuse unsafe work tasks and conditions and report potential violations to DLI. Coworkers of minor employees can model best practices, identify hazardous conditions and hours of work and report potential violations to DLI. Employers should promote workplace safety and health, as well as worker rights and responsibilities, to teens entering or returning to the workforce.

For more information, visit www.dli.mn.gov/laborlaw or contact Labor Standards at 651-284-5075 or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.