Hiring Minors, Visitors in the Office, and Exit Interviews

It’s time again for our HR Basecamp roundup. If you’re new here, we take the most popular submitted questions from our HR Basecamp Facebook group every other week and go more in-depth on the answer. Join the over 10,000 other office managers and business owners here to submit your questions and participate in the discussion!

Podcasts and Resources in this Roundup:

What the Hell Just Happened?! Episode 405: Considering Hiring a Minor for the Summer?

Hiring Unpaid Interns This Summer? Here’s What You Should Know.

When an Employee Makes an Exit: An HR Infographic

FREE Exit Interview Documentation

I plan on hiring my teenager and her friends to work around the office during summer break. Is it any different than hiring a regular employee? What if I bring them on as an intern?

Hiring your child and their friends to work in the office during summer break can be a great experience for everyone. However, you should keep a few things in mind to ensure everything runs smoothly.

First, the legal stuff:

  1. Child Labor Laws:

-Federal Rules: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets rules about the minimum age and hours minors can work. Generally, kids must be at least 14 years old for non-agricultural jobs. There are also restrictions on what kind of work they can do and when they can do it.

-State Rules: These can differ from federal laws and might be stricter. It’s important to speak to an HR expert and check what your state says about hiring minors.



  1. Allowed Tasks:

-There are limits on what jobs and tasks minors can do. Hazardous work is typically off-limits, so operating heavy machinery is usually a no-go.



  1. Work Hours:

-There are rules about how many hours minors can work, especially during the school year. In the summer, they can usually work longer hours, but there are still limits, like no more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week for 14-15-year-olds.



The Hiring Process:

  1. Paperwork and Payroll:

-Treat the hiring process like you would for any other employee. This means adding them to the payroll, issuing a W-2, and making sure they fill out all the necessary forms, such as Form I-9 and Form W-4.



  1. New Hire Checklist:

-Use a checklist to ensure you follow all the steps. This can include setting up direct deposit, explaining company policies, and providing any necessary training.



Regular Labor Laws:

  1. Equal Treatment:

-Even though they’re family, we recommend you treat them like any other employee. This means following all labor laws about things like minimum wage and safe working conditions. However, it’s worth noting that federal wage laws that apply to other workers don’t apply to family members in family-run businesses. Still, we recommend treating your child the same as all other workers to keep things fair and professional.



  1. Training:

-Make sure they get all the necessary training. For example, in a medical office, HIPAA training is a must. They must learn that they can’t tell all their friends that they saw their teacher in your practice receiving treatment. 



Internships:

  1. Strict Rules:

As an aside,  if you’re considering offering an internship, be aware that there are strict rules about what counts as a true internship. The training must benefit the intern more and not the company, and the intern shouldn’t replace regular employees. It must be part of an accredited state-sponsored program. Visit this link for more on that! 



Taxes:

  1. Talk to Your CPA:

-Beyond payroll taxes, speak with your CPA about any potential tax benefits or obligations. If your child is your dependent, there might be some extra things to consider.



Now, for the human side of things:

Working for you can be a great learning opportunity for your child. Treat them like any other employee, with the same training and expectations, to give them a valuable experience.

By following these tips, you can create a positive and productive work environment for your child and their friends while adhering to the rules. Remember that if you are a CEDR member, we can provide more information.
I’m having trouble with my employee's husband/boyfriend/friend stopping by the office. I don’t mind if they stop by to drop off lunch or wait for them to get off work, but there have been several times when the visitor has gone behind the front desk or into the break room. I think those areas should be for employees only. How can I enforce this?

The legal side of things: You’re absolutely right—those areas should be limited to employees only. Putting aside the distractions and potential HR issues visitors to these areas can cause, there are also real legal concerns.

For starters, there’s HIPAA. The risk of a HIPAA violation increases when you allow a non-employee to step behind the front desk. Visitors could catch a glimpse of patient information on an open screen, see a private note, or catch the details of a phone call they shouldn’t be listening to. There’s also the chance that a patient will assume that this person works there and, therefore, start talking to them about their private medical needs. 

There’s also a safety risk. It’s one thing if an employee gets injured in a work area - you’ve got coverage for that. But what about a visitor you knowingly allowed to be in non-public areas of your office? It sounds extreme, but you truly never know what can happen, and chances are you don’t want to find out the hard way. 

Now for the human approach: Even if safety and security weren’t an issue, visitors in employee areas could be a distraction to the person they’re visiting and other staff.

So, how do you stop it without singling anyone out? DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT! This is a zero-tolerance policy.  With a proper handbook policy, of course! If your employee handbook doesn’t have a section covering visitors, now is the time to add it. And if it does, it’s time to revisit and make sure it says what you need it to say. 

Share the policy with your entire staff to remind them what is and isn’t allowed when they have visitors. But don’t be afraid to stop it immediately. If you have a policy like this but an issue has arisen, you can have individual discussions with the offending employees. Having a policy to point to will make it much easier to address and issue a corrective action if needed. 
An employee put it in their notice and asked if there would be an exit interview. I’ve never done one. Is this something I should be doing with every employee that leaves?

The legal side of things: There’s no legal requirement to conduct an exit interview when an employee separates, but there can be legal benefits.

In some cases, information shared in an exit interview can bring to light an internal issue that could have legal consequences if not addressed, such as harassment or discrimination. You should take any accusations made during an exit interview as seriously as you would if the employee was still working there and conduct an investigation.

Many departing employees won’t disclose information to you, even though you have offered them the opportunity to do so. This can actually help you down the line if the employee tries to claim something unlawful happened while working there. You can only address issues that you knew, or should have known, about. Being able to show that this employee never told you about an issue even after they had resigned, therefore no longer having any reason to fear repercussions, can be a powerful defense.  

Now for the human approach: We recommend giving every departing employee the opportunity to fill out an exit interview form, and most employers follow this guidance. In a recent poll from CEDR’s HR Insider newsletter, almost 70% of surveyed employers said that they offer exit interviews in some way.

Exit interviews give employees the opportunity to speak freely since they are no longer tied to your business. The feedback you get, both positive and negative, can be a huge asset.

Exit interviews often reveal details about office culture, management, compensation, recognition, and working conditions from the employee’s perspective. When a departing employee has good things to say, it can be reassuring that you’re doing a good job as a business owner. When their answers are negative, it opens the door for you to look further into potential issues in your office. 

Are the things they spoke negatively about unique to their position? Have you received similar feedback from current employees? Do you notice any trends in answers from departing employees? If so, it may be time to review your internal practices to address the issue(s). 

One aspect employers tend to get nervous about is conducting the exit interview in person. How awkward would that be? Not to worry - we actually recommend that you not do this in most cases. Instead, when an employee is leaving you can provide them an exit interview form that they can return at any time to you. This way they can take some time to consider what information they wish to share, and can do so without the pressure of a face-to-face meeting. 

Of course, not every employee that you give an exit interview to will complete it, and that’s okay. Just giving them the opportunity to complete one shows that you made an effort to get their side of the story. 

Check out this HR Infographic for a breakdown of the exit interview process and download CEDR’s Exit Interview Documentation here

Do you want to take part in future polls and learn how other business owners and managers respond? Subscribe to the HR Insider newsletter here

May 22, 2024

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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