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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses

- Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor

Wages for Youth

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires payment of at least the Federal minimum wage to covered, nonexempt employees.  However, a special minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to young workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive days of employment with an employer.

Other programs allowing for payment of less than the full Federal minimum wage that may be applicable to young workers are: full-time students and student-learners employed pursuant to sub-minimum wage certificates. (Please note that these programs are not limited to the employment of workers under 18 years of age.)

Youth Minimum Wage Program

A minimum wage of not less than $4.25 may be paid to employees under the age of 20 for their first 90 days of employment with any employer as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 days of employment, or when the worker reaches age 20 (whichever comes first), the worker must receive at least the Federal minimum wage.

Full-Time Student Program

This program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. The employer that hires students can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 85 percent of the minimum wage. The certificate limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out, and requires the employer to follow all child labor laws. Once students graduate or leave school for good, they must be paid at least the Federal minimum wage.

There are some limitations on the use of the full-time student program. For information on the limitations or to obtain a certificate, contact the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division at 230 South Dearborn, Room 514, Chicago, Illinois, 60604; telephone: (312)596-7195.

Student-Learner Program

This program is for high school students at least 16 years old who are enrolled in vocational education (shop courses). The employer that hires the student can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 75 percent of the Federal minimum wage for as long as the student is enrolled in the vocational education program.

Employers interested in applying for a student learner certificate should contact the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division at 230 South Dearborn, Room 514, Chicago, Illinois, 60604; telephone: (312)596-7195.