Fall 2014
Hiring Teens

Tips you can’t ignore and pointers you won’t want to dismiss

With many retailers hiring more part-time workers versus full time, it’s important to consider the rules, regulations and unique attributions that apply to this part time crowd. But when it comes to hiring teens in this category, it’s even more critical to consider the unique regulations, considerations and other attributes that affect this group of employees.

To help you prepare for your next round of interviews and hiring among teenage candidates, consider the following details:

State laws may vary to federal laws for teen employment.

It’s critical you review your specific state laws on teen employment, ensuring you do not overlook specific details that matter for your specific state. Some states, for example, have rules on what types of jobs teens are not allowed to perform, while other states do not specify limitations. From a national perspective, there are various rules that may keep you from hiring a teen. To help you gain a more concrete understanding of what you need to know specifically for your state, look under child labor rules” at www.dol.gov.

Minimum wage and other payment details must be met in accordance to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is responsible for setting minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping details and other payment details specific to child labor rules affecting both full and part time workers in the private sector. The rules may vary depending on the age of the worker and his or her duties. Additionally, it’s important to note that once an employee is 18, there are no federal child labor rules applied to their employment, as well as they may no longer be required to hold work permits. It’s always suggested to check with your state regulations to ensure you are on track with both federal and state expectations.

The Department of Labor provides updates to payment details and other youth employment details.

Called Youth Rules, the Department of Labor takes special attention to the teen and youth crowd, providing detailed information on what you need to know at www.youthrules.dol.gov. Expect to find information and links to almost everything you should be aware of, including both federal and state rules. Among the details that you will find include the limits on the hours teens are allowed to work, jobs they can perform and responsibilities they may not be allowed to fill.

The hours and age specific details of youth and teen workers should not be ignored – ever.

With few exceptions, youth workers have firm state and federal standards. Do you know yours? If not, take note. The national age for employees to be hired is 14, which means that even your best friend’s super smart and responsible daughter who is only 13 can’t work for you … no matter how great you know she’d be. Additional details that are age specific include 16 and 17 year olds may perform any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours, whereas 14 and 15 year olds may work in non-manufacturing, non-mining, non-hazardous jobs on a limited basis.

This means they cannot work more than three hours a day on school days; or more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Note that during the school year, 14 and 15 year olds may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. in most states. During the summer these hours are extended to 9 p.m.

Teens need training just like any employee would… with off-limit details highlighted.

Part time or full time, all your employees should understand your store expectations and customer service standards, and teens are no exception. While your immediate reaction to this may be “of course,” these details get overlooked all too often.

Assuming a teen hire may only be to help merchandise, stock your store, work behind the scenes or provide temporary help, you still want to consider how they will behave and represent your store should they engage with a customer. Any role a teen employee has — or any employee for that matter — should include proper training. Among what you should train them on includes what not to do, or any off limit responsibilities.

With today’s youth commonly referred to as the “automated” generation, they may just assume they can do something when you would prefer they do no, or worse, they are legally not allowed to. Setting clear expectations for your teen hires to follow is key.

Identify clear “request off” standards and other scheduling policies.

Teens are, well, teens. They can be impulsive and selfish while also hard working and responsible. With this in mind, be sure you clearly state your store policies for requesting time off and other factors that will influence your scheduling. Leave no room for them to interrupt this to be anything except exactly what and how you want it to be.

Address cell phone, Internet use and social media posts

Nowadays, teens can barely go anywhere without posting it to Twitter or Instagramming it for all their friends and strangers to see. Do you want your store to be among their posts? Consider what your store policy is when it comes to your workers sharing store details online and in their personal social networks, then outline these details to your employees.

For example, do you welcome pictures taken in your store on their social media feed? And if so, do you want your store handle or social media page to be applied to it? Set your preferences and share them with your hires so you won’t have to regretfully do so after the case. You never know what could be shared online. Additionally, identify if being on their phone during working hours is even acceptable — with exception to emergencies, of course.

Hiring teens can be a smart strategic move for your store, but it should not come without specific care. Be aware of your state expectations, federal laws and store specific policies to ensure hiring teens is right for you. And don’t forget to ask them well in advance for dates they can’t work or other limitations to their personal schedule. After all, they didn’t get the reputation for getting everything they want “just because.” Be clear about your policies, expectations and entire work experience so that working with teens can be rewarding for both you and your business.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Marketing and Managing Your Retail Business,” as well as a Forbes contributor and Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday. Follow her blog at RetailMinded.com.





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