By: Randall Harrison, State Assistant Administrator, Labor Division, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity
What is Youth Employment?
Youth employment is defined as the engagement of a minor 14 to 17 years of age to work by a person, firm, or corporation. The lawful employment of minors is an important part of shaping the future workforce and cultivating entrepreneurs. Employers of today play a big role in how productive the future labor force can be. Providing a positive work environment for minors will help them to transition into adulthood by establishing confidence and self-reliance as they learn responsibility, accountability, and good work habits, while acquiring the organizational and time management skills required to be a productive part of the workforce.
The State of Michigan is regulated by both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the state’s Youth Employment Standards Act (YESA). Both statutes pertain to youth employment, but the more stringent standard will take precedence. For youth 14 to 15 years of age, FLSA is stricter and will take priority, whereas YESA is predominant for youth 16 to 17 years of age. To commence the legal employment of a minor, ensure there is a valid work permit on file, the minor is only engaged during the hours allotted, and the minor is only allowed to work the number of hours afforded by the act(s).
Entities that employ minors in compliance with the applicable act(s) are ensuring the safety and health of minors. Most importantly, providing minors the opportunity to engage in safe employment builds the confidence and character of youth that will enter the labor community in all capacities.
To learn more about laws that provide for the legal employment and protection of minors, visit https://www.michigan.gov/leo/bureaus-agencies/ber/wage-and-hour/youth-employment-standards-act-yesa.