Christine Michel Carter is the only award-winning advocate helping ambitious women and badass moms have rewarding careers.

can your child legally work for you

In January 2020, the US confirmed her first COVID-19 case. Since then, COVID-19 has exploded into a pandemic, impacting both personal and businesses alike. On a larger scale, many countries’ economies took a hit, causing many to lose their sources of income. As of current writing, some countries struggle to make a comeback while still battling the ever-persistent pandemic. People struggled to keep afloat, leaving many wondering: can my child legally work for me? 

Venturing into Business During the Pandemic

It is most unfortunate as more women lost their jobs compared to men. However, many women found their footing during such trying times as they became successful by starting their businesses. You may shake your head in disbelief. After all, it does not make sense to start your business venture during the pandemic when others have liquidated their businesses instead. 

However, people strive, thrive, and emerge better under unfavorable circumstances. When push comes to shove, mommies will take that plunge and fill that void. Of course, aside from the pandemic, other reasons motivate women to venture out and launch their businesses too.

For those businesses that depend on third-party suppliers, utilize tools that can help you verify their website’s safety; you would not want to end up scammed! Being vigilant is one virtue you will never regret.

Take heart. Being a good mommy and a loving wife does not mean you cannot be a successful career-minded person with goals. 

Can Your (Under 18) Child Legally Work For You?

Family-owned businesses employ 63% of the US workforce and they contribute to 78% of new jobs creation. Walmart is owned by the Walton family, and Nike by the Knight family. You could be next.

Once your business expands, you need help. It makes perfect sense to look to those nearest to you. After all, who best to trust except your very own? Giving your children work in your business also enriches them with relevant and practical experience. They rake invaluable experience in the business world. Also, you get to teach them the value of money and hard work. In time, they will thank you.

Eventually, your business will consist of employees with a keen sense of responsibility, accountability, teamwork, and loyalty. There is another benefit to hiring your children. The salary payment is tax-free, although this depends on specific criteria and the age of your children. The tax-saving amount can be substantial. You enjoy higher savings, and more money is within the inner circle. 

You also spend more time with your children and ‘bond’ with them. You may want to groom your kids to take over the business when you retire. What better time to start succession planning than now?

Abide by the Child Labor Laws

When hiring children (under 18), you must follow child labor laws; they dictate what type of job, the wages, the number of hours, and others. The child labor laws vary by country and region. For this article, we shall be focusing on the US.   

The US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division enacted and enforced the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938; this law governs all child labor regulations. However, workers above 18 years old are not governed by the FLSA. 

FLSA offers certain exemptions when hiring your children under 18 years old; this holds if the business is owned solely by you, as the parent. Make sure you familiarize yourself with this law as the US emphasizes the overall well-being of children and not having their education access disrupted.  

Age and Number of Hours Requirements

Generally speaking, the FLSA sets 14 years old as the employment minimum age. However, this depends on the industry type. 

For non-agriculture jobs:

  • 16 and 17 years old can work for unlimited hours
  • 14 and 15 years old can work outside school hours, subject to certain criteria 

For agriculture jobs:

  • 16 years old and above can work any job (hazardous or not) for unlimited hours
  • 14 and 15 years old can work only non-hazardous jobs outside school hours
  • 12 and 13 years old can work only non-hazardous jobs outside school hours. The business, if owned by the parents, is acceptable. If not, they need consent from their parents.
  • Under 12 years of age can work only non-hazardous jobs outside school hours. The business, if owned by the parents, is acceptable. If not, they need consent from their parents; the minimum wage requirements do not cover this.

However, if the minors work for their parents, the FLSA states that the minimum age requirements do not apply. So, if you’re wondering can your child legally work for you and you own a farm, you can employ your children of any age for any job. If your business is a non-agriculture type, you can still hire your children of any age, but such jobs must not be hazardous.  

Prohibited Jobs for Children

The FLSA emphasizes the safety of minors under 18 years old. As such, they are not allowed to work in any jobs deemed to be dangerous; these include mining, operating power-driven equipment, excavation, manufacturing, handling of explosives, and others. 

Also, for those on-site industries whose work is mainly dangerous, the allowed tasks for minors are specific and require close monitoring; this applies to work for parents. Anything hazardous is not permitted. However, for the agriculture sector, the employment of minors for jobs of any nature by their parents is allowed. 

Subminimum Wage

There is a set minimum wage that all employers need to abide by. However, the FLSA stipulates that any worker under 20 years old must get at least $4.25/hour during the first 90 calendar working days, after which the worker must obtain the minimum wage. The minimum wage is also applicable upon reaching 20 years old, whichever comes first.

The subminimum wage is a lower amount meant for certain workers like full-time students, workers with disabilities, including minors. The FLSA controls the standards that surround this subminimum wage. However, some states offer higher wage amounts. In the event there is any conflict, the higher standard law applies.

On this same note, when you perform your monthly payment salaries online for your workers, please stress security and privacy. You would not want such confidential information to leak. 

State Laws

We have established that family businesses are not strictly restricted by federal law when hiring their children. It does not mean that the sky’s the limit when engaging your child to work for you. There are state laws that govern child labor, with which you have to contend.

In the US, each state enforces its respective child labor laws and protects the children’s welfare with the pressing concern that education must never be compromised due to work commitments. There are exceptions, and they usually apply to family businesses and the agriculture sector. However, this is not always the case, depending on the state. So, always check your state’s laws. 

Both the federal and state laws usually coincide with child labor provisions. However, should there be any conflict/differences, you must adhere to the one sporting the higher standard, which is more protective.

Adhere to Relevant Employment Laws

If you’re wondering can your child legally work for you, do not give special treatment to your children just because you are hiring them. You must abide by all employment regulations and file all relevant forms. 

Fill up Form I-9, as this verifies your child’s identification and employment eligibility. Register an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your child; this is essential to identify your company on any business and tax documents. 

Conflict Management

Working with family may not be all that rosy and dandy. There will be disagreements and arguments that can cause a fallout. While you, being the adult, may be able to control your emotions and remain professional, the same may not apply to your child. So, be patient and work through them with your child. 

Always keep personal and business matters separate. After all, this could be your child’s first real working experience. Use this as an opportunity to mentor, guide, and coach your child. Parenting at work is very different from everyday parenting. That said, the former, if done right, is a useful and effective way to help both you and your child grow together.

Once your child starts work, you will need to provide the relevant software and utility tools which means that your child will be accessing more of the internet. Please do take extra precautions to screen and protect them from online harassment.

Schedule Work Accordingly 

Remember that your child has school commitments, and the priority should always be their education. As such, arrange work around the school schedules, extracurricular activities, and social events. That way, your child will be able to perform well in both school and work.  


Managing a business while juggling family affairs is not easy. It can be overwhelming to the extent you may think it has to be one or the other. You start to believe that you cannot be greedy for both. This is not true because many were and still are managing their personal and business lives well

As an empowered entrepreneur, it is only natural you look to your loved ones for help and support; this includes wondering if your can child legally work for you. However, you are governed by both federal and state laws. Although exemptions are available for family businesses, there are certain aspects that you need to adhere to. Do go through the FLSA and relevant state laws where you reside. Make sure you abide by them at all times to avoid being penalized.