As a business owner or HR leader, you know that minors in the workforce are often the ideal option to fill certain positions during the holiday season, summer vacation or, increasingly, to manage skills gaps in a tight labor market. It also offers your business tax advantages and gives you an opportunity to save operating costs by filling positions with minors on a part-time basis.
Despite these benefits, there are layers of complexity when considering hiring minors. Along with researching and ensuring compliance with numerous child labor laws, your HR and legal teams need to understand the critically important factors associated with the question: Can you run a background check on a minor?
Yes, you can run background checks on minors. In fact, the law sometimes requires you to do so — but there are restrictions and regulations your team needs to know and observe to protect minor candidates and your business in preparation for and during the screening process.
Who Qualifies As a Minor?
Determining who qualifies as a minor for employment purposes is the first step to successfully navigating this tricky task.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) determines various aspects of defining minors in the workforce. This act provides a sweeping definition of minors as individuals younger than 18 years old and sets standards for hours worked, wages and safety requirements for those with minor status.
However, there are other considerations, including the specific type of job involved and the minimum age for employment, which is 14 years. Finally, the FLSA limits the allowable hours worked by minors younger than 16 years old.
You also need to understand your state’s laws regarding minors, which can vary slightly.
Factors to Consider When Performing a Background Check on a Minor
Now that you have a better idea of what constitutes minor status, there is more to consider when planning to conduct any type of background check, including a drug screening and criminal records check.
Here are some things you should know and steps to take to perform a confident and compliant background check on your minor job candidates.
Required Consent From the Minor’s Guardian
Minors are not legally able to provide consent for background screenings, so you must turn to the candidate’s legal guardian to seek consent on the candidate’s behalf. If the minor signs a release form, the subsequent findings in any screening will probably not be binding, leaving your business unprotected.
If you cannot obtain the legal guardian’s consent for the necessary screenings, consult with your attorney or outsourced background screening firm to determine how to proceed.
Records Availability Status
You might have heard of the practice of sealing juvenile records. There is a chance you could run into this issue, leaving the records unavailable to you, so again, you should turn to the minor’s legal guardian or your organization’s attorney.
Once you have the guardian’s consent, the records will become available for various background screenings, including employment history and contacting references.
What Steps Can You Take to Determine a Minor’s Fitness for Employment With Your Business?
While potentially invaluable to your operations, you need to do your best to determine a minor’s fitness for employment with your organization. It is a challenging task, and many times, the results you receive from a background check for minors are limited, since there are laws in place to protect minors, even if they have a criminal background.
We recommend that you work closely with your legal counsel, HR team and a professional verification services team such as GVN to ensure you are compliant with the relevant state and federal laws.
Our team of professionals continually and dutifully researches the laws associated with screening minors and any other job candidates, so you never need to worry.
Contact us to learn more about our team’s ability to help ease the process of hiring talented minors.