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
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).
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
(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
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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