By: Amanda Winstead
There are 5.5 million family businesses in the U.S., and many of them have been around for generations. Whether you’re a single mom or not, running your mommy and me business undoubtedly means a lot to you. So much so, that you want to share it and pass it on to your child. But if you want to take on a mommy and me business, can your child legally work for you?
But, if you’ve got a little one, you might be wondering whether you can/should use them as an employee.
Putting your child to work at a young age might seem harsh, but there are both benefits and drawbacks to consider. One of the major drawbacks is whether it’s actually legal. Depending on where your business is located, you might run into some federal or state laws that limit what your child can do for your business.
Of course, as their parent, there are other things to keep in mind before they start contributing to the mommy and me business, too. Let’s discuss some of those legalities and what you should consider before putting your child to work.
Understand Child Labor Laws
There are federal and state laws in place designed to protect the well-being of children and make sure their physical, emotional, or mental states are being harmed if they’re working. Most of these laws also want to ensure that any type of employment isn’t going to get in the way of a child’s education.
So, when can your child start working? According to federal law, if you are the sole owner of the company, they can begin working for you at age 12. If you don’t own it outright, the age increases to 14.
Even if your child is old enough to work, you still have to understand the child labor laws in place to keep them safe. Some of the national ones include:
- 14-15-year-olds can’t work over 8 hours a day
- The same age group can’t work more than 3 hours on a school day
- Minors cannot work before 7 am or after 7 pm
There are many jobs considered too hazardous for minors, too. While there are some exemptions, most kids under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to work in jobs that require them to operate heavy machinery or anything that involves driving a motor vehicle.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to federal laws, and it’s important to keep in mind that state laws are different. If it all seems confusing or overwhelming, it may be worth it to work with a labor relations specialist. They know child labor laws inside and out, so they can offer you clear information on whether your child can work for you, and any restrictions that should be in place.
Make Sure They’re Ready
Even if your child is legally allowed to work for you, it’s never a good idea to throw them into the business unless they’ve expressed interest and have shown that they’re ready.
If your child has grown up around your business, they might already know the basics. But, it’s up to you to determine whether they can handle the work involved. Ask yourself some of the following questions before you allow them to jump in:
- Do they manage their time well?
- How are their communication skills?
- Do they know what’s appropriate in different situations?
- How well do they work as a team player?
At the end of the day, it can be exciting for your child/teen to work for you. But, you still want your business to come first. If you have any concerns that your child’s employment might harm your success in any way, it’s not time to bring them on board.
You’ll also know they’re ready if they take some initiative in understanding labor laws, themselves. For example, the federal government does not require work permits for minors. But, many states do. If your child has brought a work permit home from school or has printed one online, chances are they’re eager to get to work and willing to do whatever it takes to prove themselves.
Set Your Own Rules For Your Mommy and Me Business
Understanding state and federal child labor laws is important. But, having your own “laws” and rules for your mommy and me business is just as crucial when you’re considering letting your child work for you.
Your number one priority should be keeping them safe. If you have younger kids at home, you’ll also need to find a way to occupy them while working with your older one(s). When it comes to working directly with your child, make sure they understand any/all safety rules all other employees have to follow.
Even if your job is Internet-based and your child is helping you, safety is still important. Set ground rules for them as they spend time online and make sure they know the potential dangers. Make sure they understand how to protect private information and keep all of your accounts secure. One mistake can not only impact you both, but it could cause serious problems for your business.
Introducing your child to your mommy and me business is something you should take pride in. But, it can’t be done prematurely. Do your research on the legalities of it, make sure your child is interested, and that you’re both ready to step into the next chapter of your careers together. You can take on a mommy and me business!