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Do I Need to Pay My Own Kid?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Summer is almost here, meaning many parents will have to figure out how to keep their kids occupied for those three months. Some of those parents might be hoping their child can land a summer job. And some other parents may be hoping to put their kid to work in their own office.

So let's say that Junior comes to work for you at the family business. Do you have to pay him? Assuming you're keeping the employment on the books and above board, here are some considerations:

The Feds

The U.S. Department of Labor sets the standards for child labor rules, which apply to all employees under 18. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates a minimum wage of $4.25 an hour for employees under 20 during their first 90 days of employment. After 90 days, employers must pay the full federal minimum wage.

Additionally, a child's wages may be subject to income tax withholding and social security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes, depending on the structure of your business.

You should also be aware that while the Department of Labor doesn't place time constraints on child employees, parents can't employ their kids in mining, manufacturing, or other hazardous occupations.

The States

State law can vary from federal law, and can often be more protective of child labor. State minimum wage laws may vary, especially with regard to child employees. And there may be additional state certifications and age requirements placed on hiring your kids.

While there may not be federal restrictions on the hours you can have your child work, the states may see it a little differently. To ensure that you're compliant with applicable state labor laws, you may want to contact your local labor office.

Having your child learn the family business can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. To make sure it's also a legally kosher one, you may want to contact an employment lawyer in your area.

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