Hiring Iowa Teens This Summer


It’s almost spring break time in Iowa, thank heavens!  Which means longer days, warmer weather (hopefully) and students starting to look for jobs in anticipation of the spring/summer months.  As an employer, you are always seeking good employees to add to your business. Many students are eager to work in Iowa, especially during the summer months. To a teenager, a job means money for school and other expenses, work experience and help in deciding on a career. There are many legalities to follow when employing teens.  Outlined below are the major laws to keep in mind (by age) and links to resources for more details.


Child Labor Laws Dictate:

  • The hours youth may work
  • How many hours may be worked per day/week
  • The time of the year youth may work
  • Types of jobs or occupations they may have
  • When work permits are required

The Iowa Division of Labor protects Iowa’s children from certain hazards and from being overworked. The extent of these protections, found in Iowa Code chapter 92 and its rules, depends upon the age of the child.  As you would imagine, the restrictions become more stringent the younger the teen is.


The Major Laws to Know by Age: 

16 & 17 year olds

  • Employers may require a Certificate of Age for youth who are 16 and older. Having a valid Certificate of Age on file for each of your 16 or 17 year-old employees protects both the employer and employee. (work permit, form 62-2203)
  • If at least 16 years old, teens may work in the following areas with some restrictions:
    • Manufacturing and construction (but not with certain powered equipment doing roofing, excavation or demolition work)
    • Insurance and real estate
    • Retail stores
    • Hotels and motels
    • Restaurants
    • Local government
    • Retail lumberyards
    • Garages and auto repair shops
    • Service/Gas stations
    • Hospitals and nursing homes
    • Greenhouses and nurseries
    • Printing and publishing firms
    • *See below for link to restrictions
  • Iowa law allows young people, who are 16 and older, to work any hours except in transmission, distribution or delivery of goods or message

  14 & 15 year olds

  • A work permit applies to minors who are 14 or 15 years old for most jobs in Iowa. Teens who are 10-15 must have street trade permits to deliver newspapers or perform any other street occupations such as selling door to door.  (work permit, form 62-2203)
  • If 14 years or older, teens may:
    • Pack fresh fruits or vegetables in a retail or agricultural setting but not in a processing setting
    • Answer phones and take messages in a telephone answering service
    • Caddy on a golf course
    • Sell gas and oil or wash and polish cars at service stations (To operate power washers, must be 16 years or older.)
    • Do office work, clerical work
    • Maintain grounds (To use power lawn mower, or a weed eater as part of the job, must be 16 years old.)
  • In retail stores and businesses, 14 years and older may:
    • Run errands or make deliveries by foot, bicycle or on public transportation
    • Sell, price, pack and shelve store goods
    • Assemble customer orders
    • Bag purchases and carry out for customers
    • Clean vegetables and fruits
    • Do cleanup work (not using chemicals that require or recommend the use of personal protective equipment.)
    • Trim windows and make displays without the use of ladders
  • In food service firms, 14 years or older may:
    • Serve food at lunch counters
    • Wash dishes
    • Do cleanup work (not using chemicals that require or recommend the use of personal protective equipment.)
  • May work: outside school hours, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. after Labor Day through May 31, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.
    • But they may not work more than: four hours a day on school days, 28 hours a week during a school week, 8 hours a day during vacations and on weekends and holidays, 40 hours a week during the summer (June 1 through Labor Day), or during the school year if there is a full week of vacation
    • Workdays of five hours or more must allow for a 30-minute break.

After reading this long list, it may seem like it is not worth it to hire teenagers but they are the next generation’s workforce.  We have the chance to positively influence their work ethic, trust, loyalty and help in teaching them essential life skills.  I’m so thankful for the mentors I had when I was a teen and will be sending my own teen out there to apply for jobs soon. I hope it not only adds to his/her pocketbook but maturity as well. If you need help navigating any of the Child Labor Laws, state and/or federal, please contact HR On-Call, LLC at 515-401-2233.  

*The Division of Labor Services web site: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/services-youth-and-young-adults.  Federal Child Labor Law: http://youthrules.dol.gov/



Susan Arnold HR On-Call, LLC
p. 515.401.2233
e. Susan@HROn-Call.com

A little more about us: Susan Arnold, owner and lead HR Consultant at HR On-Call, LLC. Susan has 20+ years of HR experience and provides a HR presence to business organizations without the overhead expense of a full-time employee. Susan helps business owners improve employer/employee relationships and allows them to focus on their business while resting assured that they are in full compliance with state and federal law. Areas of expertise:

  • Reduce Employer Risk and Liability
  • Customized Employee Handbooks
  • Performance Reviews
  • Improve Employee/Employer Relationships
  • Background Checks
  • Personality Assessments
  • Guaranteed EEO Compliance
  • Employee Retention
  • Recruitment / Hiring
  • Employee Discipline/Discharge

Susan is passionate about her customers and listens to their needs. If you are interested in any of the details above or would like more information about her services, please contact Susan! If you have questions on how your specific policy should read or need help navigating a certain instance, contact HR On-Call, LLC

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