Youth labor

Hiring minors comes with specific rules

Employing teenage laborers on the farm is a common practice, but there are several rules to follow if those minors are not related to the farm family for whom they are working.

Minors employed on farms operated by parents, grandparents or guardians (where they are members of the guardian’s household) are exempt from Ohio’s law governing minor employment, according to Leah Curtis, Ohio Farm Bureau policy counsel and senior director of member engagement, who notes those exemptions apply strictly to farming operations, not an agribusiness.

However, there are several rules to follow when employing teens who are not members of the family on a farm.

“Hours are probably the most complicated part,” Curtis said. “There are a lot of restrictions depending on their age on when they can work.”

Restriction on hours of employment for teens under age 16 include working:

  • during school hours
  • before 7 a.m.
  • after 9 p.m. from June 1 to Sept. 1
  • after 9 p.m. during any school holiday lasting more than five days
  • after 7 p.m. on any other day not already covered
  • for more than three hours during a school day
  • for more than eight hours in any day that is not a school day
  • for more than 18 hours in any week while school is in session
  • for more than 40 hours in any week that school is not in session.

Note that there are some exemptions for the hours-per-week limitations, if the job is part of vocational cooperative training, work study or some other approved work-education program.

Restriction on hours of employment for teens ages 16-17 who are required to attend school include working:

  • Before 6 a.m., so long as the person was not employed after 8 p.m. the previous night
  • Before 7 a.m. if the person was employed after 8 p.m. the previous night
  • After 11 p.m. on any night preceding a day that school is in session.

Curtis also noted that minors must have a rest period of at least 30 minutes if they are employed more than five consecutive hours.

As far as wages are concerned, an employer must provide the employee with written evidence of the agreed upon wage, and on or before each payday must give a statement of the earnings due and the amount to be paid. Also, the employer cannot retain or withhold wages due because of presumed negligence, breakage of machinery, failure to comply with rules or alleged incompetence as to work performed.  Finally, witholdings to any paycheck would also need to be done appropriately, she said.

If employers are hiring youth for nonfarm jobs, there are additional laws and restrictions that will apply.

Remember, Ohio law requires anyone who employs at least one employee to have workers’ compensation coverage or be self insured.

Legal with Leah

Hear more about hiring young workers on the latest Legal with Leah.

For a refresher on what types of activities minors employed on farms can or cannot do, listen to this episode in our archives.

Also find Legal With Leah on Google Play, Apple iTunes and SoundCloud, along with other Ohio Farm Bureau podcasts Town Hall Ohio and Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership