MONTGOMERY, Ala. – As summer approaches, the Alabama Department of Labor is reminding employers of the regulations associated with employing teen workers. As many businesses struggle to find a sufficient number of employees, some may turn to teen workers to help fill the gap. Hiring teens can be beneficial for both the employer and the worker. Part-time or summer jobs can provide teens with great opportunities for learning important life skills and acquiring hands-on experience, while at the same time allowing teens to earn spending money. Businesses can fill short-time seasonal jobs with workers who are only available for a limited period and can provide training to workers.
“It’s no secret that employers have struggled to fill jobs this year and as summer approaches, that struggle will likely grow. Now that school is almost out, teen workers may be part of the answer,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.
According to 12-month Current Population Survey data, labor force participation rates are rising for the 16-19 age group. Yearly increases are shown below:
April 2017 – March 2018 = 29.5%
April 2018 – March 2019 = 31.7%
April 2019 – March 2020 = 32.1%
April 2020 – March 2021 = 36.9%
The number of child labor certificates issued has also increased over the past two years, with a total of 16,789 certificates issued in 2020, compared to 12,538 in 2019. 2021 is currently on track to match or exceed 2020s numbers, with 6,645 certificates issued through May 19, 2021.
“While teen workers are a valuable part of our economy, we also have a responsibility to ensure that they are working safely, and that employers are following applicable laws. Sometimes there are misperceptions as to what sorts of jobs teens can legally do, and we’d like to make sure that employers are aware of Alabama’s Child Labor laws,” continued Washington.
Teens may work at age 14 in Alabama. Employers who want to hire teens aged 14-17 must obtain a Child Labor Certificate from ADOL. The certificates can be found online at https://labor.alabama.gov/. One certificate allows a business to employ as many teens as they need for an entire year.
The employer should have ready access to a government issued proof of age (driver’s license, learner’s permit, birth certificate, student ID, or any other city, county, state or federal document). The employer should also document where the teen goes to school. ADOL has an Employee Information Form that can be helpful in maintaining this information, also on the ADOL website.
Teens aged 14 or 15 are required to have been in regular attendance and making satisfactory grades in school. They may obtain a statement of Eligibility to Work from their public school. Private and homeschool students may print the form from https://labor.alabama.gov/.
Agricultural work is exempt from the Alabama Child Labor Law. Teens of any age may engage in work outside of formal employment such as babysitting, lawn mowing, tutoring, computer programming and even lemonade stands. ADOL does not cover work that a teen performs at their own home.
Additional rules for employing teens:
• 14 and 15-year-olds should not work in connection within any manufacturing or mechanical establishment, cannery, mill, workshop, warehouse or machine shop.
• 14 and 15-year-olds should not work in the building trades unless they are the immediate family of the contractor and their work involves nonhazardous duties.
• 14 and 15-year-olds should not work where alcohol is consumed on premises unless they are the children of the owner or operator.
• No one under 18 should work on or in connection with roofing operations.
• No one under 18 should operate power driven woodworking, metal cutting or industrial bakery equipment. There are exceptions for this if the student is involved in a Career Tech program.
• No person under 18 should work in slaughtering, butchering or meat cutting.
A complete list of prohibited occupations can be found on the ADOL website.
Child Labor staff are available at no cost for training any individual, organization or employer. For more information, please contact the Child Labor Division at 334-956-7390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.