Do What You Love – a Teen’s First Job – FLSA Child Labor Guidelines

My 15 year old daughter got her first job. OK, she’s had jobs before like babysitting and chores.  But this is her first real job, complete with I-9 and tax forms.  She also had to go to the bank to get a letter for direct deposit.

So what’s she doing?

Here’s the fun part.  She helps her coach run the school’s volleyball camp.  It’s her second summer and most of the campers are 10 to 14 years old with 17 girls attending some sessions.  She goes every day because she loves the sport, but this year things are different.  It turns out the school pays counselors for helping coaches.

Volleyball Camp, Warm-up dig

She announced one evening, “I’m getting paid to play volleyball!”

We fixed up the bike with a basket so she can cycle with her gear the two miles to the gym and voilà.  She’s self reliant and employed!

Camp is three hours each day and she finishes today, her fourth week.  At ten dollars an hour, she earned $150 a week for doing something she loves.  And, that’s a nice bit of money for a teen.

She had a few questions when she got her first pay stub.

FICA deductions for Social Security & Medicare, a combined 7.65%

Two deductions from her earnings were taken out, OASDI and Medicare, often referred to as payroll taxes.  The first is Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, or Social Security, at 6.2% plus the Medicare tax at 1.45%.   She paid 7.65% or $17.21 of her $225 to the government.

I put my hand on her back and welcomed her to the workforce, then told her she’s lucky she didn’t have income tax withheld.

Quotes du jour:

“The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.”  Mark Twain

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”   Winston Churchill

** Here are the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) provisions on child labor: Child Labor Bulletin 101 . I listed standards and permissible jobs below, like lifeguards and baggers. To learn more about other age groups go to the link.



[excerpt from the Child Labor Bulletin 101]


Minimum Age Standards for Nonagricultural Employment


14 Minimum age for employment in specified occupations outside of school hours for limited periods of time each day and each week.


16 BASIC MINIMUM AGE FOR EMPLOYMENT. At 16 years of age, youth may be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than one declared to be hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.


18 Minimum age for employment in nonagricultural occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

Wage Payments to Young Workers

  • Unless otherwise exempt or employed under conditions discussed below, covered minor employees must be paid at least the statutory minimum wage for all hours worked.
  • Employees under 20 years of age may be paid $4.25 per hour during their first consecutive 90 calendar days of employment with an employer.
  • Certain full-time students, student learners, apprentices and workers with disabilities may be paid less than the minimum wage under special certificates issued by the Department of Labor.
  • Employers of “tipped employees” must pay a cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour if they claim a tip credit against their minimum wage obligations. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cash wage of at least $2.13 do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.


The following is the list of jobs the Secretary of Labor has determined will not interfere with the schooling, health, and well-being of 14- and 15-year-olds and therefore MAY BE performed by such youth. Any job not specifically permitted, is prohibited.

  1. OFFICE and CLERICAL WORK, including operation of office machines.
  2. WORK OF AN INTELLECTUAL OR ARTISTICALLY CREATIVE NATURE such as but not limited to computer programming, the writing of software, teaching or performing as a tutor, serving as a peer counselor or teacher’s assistant, singing, the playing of a musical instrument, and drawing, as long as such employment complies with all the other provisions contained in §§ 570.33, .34, and .35.
  3. COOKING with electric or gas grills that do not involve cooking over an open flame and with deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets into and out of the oil or grease. NOTE: this section does not permit cooking with equipment such as rotisseries, broilers, pressurized equipment including fryolators, and cooking devices that operate at extremely high temperatures such as “Neico broilers.”
  7. ERRAND and DELIVERY WORK by foot, bicycle, and public transportation. Except such youth may not be employed by a public messenger service.
  8. CLEANUP WORK, including the use of vacuum cleaners and floor waxers, and the maintenance of grounds, but not including the use of power-driven mowers, cutters, trimmers, edgers, or similar equipment.
  9. KITCHEN WORK and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including operating machines and devices used in performing such work. Examples of permitted machines and devices include, but are not limited to, dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milk shake blenders, coffee grinders, automatic coffee machines, devices used to maintain the temperature of prepared foods (such as warmers, steam tables, and heat lamps), and microwave ovens that are used only to warm prepared food and do not have the capacity to warm above 140 °F.
  10. CLEANING KITCHEN EQUIPMENT. Minors are permitted to clean kitchen equipment (not otherwise prohibited), remove oil or grease filters, pour oil or grease through filters, and move receptacles containing hot grease or hot oil, but only when the equipment, surfaces, containers and liquids do not exceed a temperature of 100°F.
  12. LOADING ONTO MOTOR VEHICLES AND THE UNLOADING FROM MOTOR VEHICLES of the light, non-power-driven, hand tools and personal protective equipment that the minor will use as part of his or her employment at the work site; and the loading onto motor vehicles and the unloading from motor vehicles of personal items such as a back pack, a lunch box, or a coat that the minor is permitted to take to the work site. Such light tools would include, but not be limited to, rakes, hand-held clippers, shovels, and brooms. Such light tools would not include items like trash, sales kits, promotion items or items for sale, lawn mowers, or other power-driven lawn maintenance equipment. Such minors would not be permitted to load or unload safety equipment such as barriers, cones, or signage.
  13. THE OCCUPATION OF LIFEGUARD (15-year-olds but not 14-year-olds) at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks (including such water park faculties as wave pools, lazy rivers, specialized activity areas, and baby pools, but not including the elevated areas of water slides) when properly trained and certified in aquatics and water safety by the American Red Cross or a similar certifying organization. No youth under 16 years of age may be employed as a lifeguard at a natural environment such as an ocean side beach, lake, pond, river, quarry, or pier.
  14. Employment of certain youth under specified conditions inside and outside of establishments WHERE MACHINERY IS USED TO PROCESS WOOD PRODUCTS. See page 24 of this guide for information on this exemption.
  15. WORK IN CONNECTION WITH CARS AND TRUCKS if confined to the following:
    • Dispensing gasoline and oil.
    • Courtesy service on premises of gasoline service station.
    • Car cleaning, washing, and polishing by hand.
    • Other occupations permitted by Child Labor Regulation No. 3, BUT NOT INCLUDING WORK involving the use of pits, racks or lifting apparatus or involving the inflation of any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring.
  16. WORK IN CONNECTION WITH RIDING INSIDE PASSENGER COMPARTMENTS OF MOTOR VEHICLES except as prohibited on page 5 of this guide or when a significant reason for the minor being a passenger in the vehicle is for the purpose of performing work in connection with the transporting—or assisting in the transporting of—other persons or property. Each minor riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle must have his or her own seat in the passenger compartment; each seat must be equipped with a seat belt or similar restraining device; and the employer must instruct the minors that such belts or other devices must be used. In addition, each driver transporting the young workers must hold a valid state driver’s license for the type of vehicle being driven and, if the driver is under the age of 18, his or her employment must comply with the provisions of HO 2 (see page 10 of this guide).


Jul 3, 2014


About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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