Monday, May 4, 2015

Get In Shape for Summer…Your Employment Practices That Is

It’s time to get in shape for summer. Summer employees in your workplace that is. 
The weather is suddenly warmer and high school and colleges will soon be out for the summer. It’s the time of year when employers make their plans make their plans for summer projects and hire seasonal employees. We at the Workplace Report are devoting the entire week to issues surrounding hiring, paying, monitoring and finally ending employment of your seasonal workers. 

While the bulk of seasonal or summer employees are older high school and college students, those over the age of 16, some employers hire students under the age of 16 years old. Special rules apply to the employment of these workers. 

First of all, Illinois child labor laws generally prohibit the hiring of anyone under the age of 14, even for part time work. Two notable exceptions apply for 13 year olds who caddy and 12 and 13 year olds who officiate at youth sports activities for not for profit organizations, park districts or municipal park departments. Special rules apply to employees of these ages, including the following:

A 14 or 15 year old minor may NOT work: 
  • before 7 a.m.
  • after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1.
  • after 9 p.m. June 1 through Labor Day.
  • more than 8 hours on non-school days.
  • more than 3 hours on school days.
  • more than 24 hours during school weeks.
  • more than 48 hours during non-school weeks.
  • more than six days per week.

Employers should also take note that minors can not be assigned what the Child Labor Law defines as “hazardous” work. While the law lists over 20 examples of hazardous work, including construction, operating dry cleaning machinery and handling human blood and body parts, the most notable for many employers of students during summer months is the prohibition against minors operating or working around power driven machinery and working in a place where alcohol is dispensed. Power driven machinery is defined as follows:

…[p]ower driven machinery shall mean any work requiring the presence of the minor around machinery whose motors and moving components are not enclosed as to prevent access to danger zones. Whether or not the machinery is operating is immaterial.  Thus, after hours cleanup in such an establishment is prohibited; provided that office and messenger and other non-hazardous employment shall not be prohibited.

While employers are generally aware that minors cannot serve alcohol, they should also be aware that they should not even work in a place where alcohol is served. 

Student help in the summer can be of great assistance but employers must be aware of how that workforce can be assigned. This week the Workplace Report will also address seasonal worker designations, pay, interns, issues surrounding awareness and prevention of sexual harassment among student workers and finally what to do when the season ends.  You might not become beach ready, but your employment practices will be in shape.