youth-240If you are a small business owner in Maine, you might be interested in hiring younger, seasonal workers, and you may be able to take advantage of a lower federal minimum wage. Employees under age 20 can be paid a “youth minimum wage,” for the first 90 consecutive calendar days. This lower wage can be as low as $4.25 per hour. The 90-day clock keeps counting even when the employees are taking off permissible days, such as weekends and holidays. Ninety days is more than long enough to cover a summer job, and it’s also long enough to give you a chance to assess whether a younger employee who is interested in a permanent position is worth the regular wage.

If the young employee turns 20 during that 90-day period, you need to raise his hourly wage to the standard minimum at that time. Keep in mind that the rules do not allow employers to manipulate the system by hiring young employees only to let them go after 90 days and hire new ones. Of course, that practice wouldn’t make much business sense anyway.

The Fair Labor Standards Act generally sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-farm work. Rules for 14-15 year olds also limit the number of hours these employees can work. When they move up to the 16-17 year old age bracket, restrictions on hours worked are lifted. No employees under 20 are permitted to work hazardous jobs.

If your Maine-based small business would benefit from hiring younger workers, check with Filler & Associates to make sure you are complying with all federal and state regulations. It may help your business flourish while keeping payroll costs down.