May I Hire Someone Under Age 14?

“May I hire my neighbor who is twelve to help me with the children this summer?”

“May I hire my thirteen year old niece to clean my home or babysit my own children on Saturday night?”

“May I hire a fourteen year old to play with the children?”

Family child care providers may not realize that there are federal and state child labor laws that apply to them.

Federal law

Under age 14

The general rule is that it’s illegal to hire anyone to help you in your business who is under the age of 14. There are two exceptions:

  • You can hire someone to do babysitting for your own family because this is a personal, not a business transaction.
  • You can hire your own children to work for your business.

That means you can’t hire a twelve year old neighbor to help you care for children. This is true even assuming the person does not have to meet your state’s child care licensing requirements because they won’t be alone with daycare children.

What about hiring a thirteen year old to clean your home? Federal law is not completely clear on this point, but I believe that you cannot. This is because cleaning your home is related to your business.

Age 14-15

There are restrictions on how many hours a person ages 14-15 can work:

  • They can’t work more than three hours on a school day, or more than 8 hours a week when school is in session.
  • They can’t work more than eight hours a day when school is not in session, or more than forty hours a week.
  • There are also restrictions on how early and late they can work each day.

So, you can hire a fourteen year old to play with the children in your care. However, see the state law section below.

Age 16 and above

At this age there is no limit onto how many hours the person may work for you in your business.

Minimum wage: You must pay anyone working for you in your business at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. You can choose to pay them more. If you state has a higher state minimum wage, you must pay the higher state rate.

What if you don’t pay the person working for you?

If you do not pay the person who helps you, you can avoid the federal restrictions cited above. However, if you are giving the person gifts or tickets to concerts or other rewards for their work, this would be considered payments.

State law

State laws may have more restrictive rules than federal law which you must obey. Some states do not allow a provider’s own children to work for them who are under age 14. Some states have more restrictive rules about how many hours a child can work. Check with your state department of labor for details.

Your state child care licensing rules may also further restrict when someone under age 14 can be working for you in your home. In most states a person cannot be left alone with children unless they are age 18 or older.

See my article: “How to Hire Your Own Children Under Age 18?”

Tom Copeland –

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Categories: Employees, Record Keeping & Taxes

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