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EMPLOYMENT OF YOUNG WORKERS AT SPECIAL MINIMUM WAGES UNDER THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor standards. Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $4.25 an hour and should receive overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.

Two programs under Section 14 of the FLSA allow the employment of young workers at special, lower minimum wages. These are for student learners, and full-time students. Such employment is permitted under certificates issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

Student Learners

This program pertains to vocational education students (student learners), age 16 and older. These are generally high school students in their junior or senior year who are enrolled in vocational education. Authority must be obtained from the Wage and Hour Division for each student if the student is to be paid a special minimum wage. The certificate can provide for a wage rate of not less than 75 percent of the minimum wage, ($3.19 under the present $4.25 per hour minimum wage).

Full-Time Students

The FLSA provision allowing employment of full-time students at special lower minimum wages was added to prevent the curtailment of their employment opportunities in retail or service establishments, agriculture and institutions of higher education.

The FLSA regulations define a full-time student as a student who meets the institution's "accepted definition of a full-time student." A full-time student retains that status during Christmas, summer and other vacations, even when the student is taking one or more courses during the vacation.

Certificates are issued for not more than one year but may be renewed. The students must be employed in compliance with all applicable child labor laws.

Full-time students employed under certificates may work at special, lower minimum wages for up to 8 hours a day, up to 40 hours a week when school is not in session, and up to 20 hours a week when school is in session. The certificate can provide for a wage rate of not less than 85 percent of the minimum wage ($3.62 under the present $4.25 per hour minimum wage).

Four types of authority allow employers to employ full-time students at a special, lower minimum wage rate. The first applies only to institutions of higher education; the others apply to retail or service establishments and to agriculture:

(1) An institution of higher education may request authority to employ its own full-time students at lower minimum wages. There are no restrictions on the number of full-time students who may be employed.

(2) An "employer" may request authority to employ up to six full- time students on any one workday. The term "employer" in this context means the highest structure of ownership or control, e.g., the controlling conglomerate or enterprise. Regardless of the number of retail or service establishments or farms involved, the "employer" would be limited to six student employees overall. This provision obviously is for the small employer and is not appropriate for employers with large numbers of separate establishments.

(3) The employer with a large number of separate establishments may request monthly allowances for each establish-ment of 10 percent of the total monthly hours of all employees in each establishment.

(4) If an employer (retail, service or agricultural) wants monthly allowances in excess of 10 percent of the monthly hours of all employees in the establish-ment, such allowances must be based on historical information such as the actual experience of the employment of full-time students either in that facility or in a similar facility.

Training Wage

The FLSA also provides for a training wage of $3.62 per hour, or 85 percent of the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater, to be paid to most employees under 20 years of age for up to 90 days under certain conditions. Individuals may be employed at this training wage for a second 90-day period by a different employer if certain additional requirements are met. No individual may be employed at the training wage, in any number of jobs, for more than a total of 180 days. Employers may not displace regular employees in order to hire those eligible for the training wage. This provision is not a part of section 14 of the FLSA.

For more information...
Contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration.

This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.

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