What am I required to do if I hire a 14-year-old for household work? Any generic information is welcome, but I'm in New York State.

Here are some things that come to mind:

  1. Do I need to have the child fill out an I-9?
  2. Where can I find the laws about working hours and minimum wage for minors?
  3. Do I need to withhold anything from the paycheck?
  4. How do I create a legitimate timesheet and paystub?
  • What is he going to do and for how long? – littleadv Aug 27 '12 at 17:07
  • @littleadv: Acting as a "mother's helper" for a few hours at a time. – Jeremy Stein Aug 27 '12 at 17:09
  • 1
    Check the schedule H instructions for your form 1040. – littleadv Aug 27 '12 at 17:28

First you need to ensure that you are not violating any Federal child labor laws. I would look at this: U.S. Dept of Labor, Wage & Hour Div., Standards for 14- and 15-Year Olds in Nonagricultural Employment. These were the items that pertained to Federal Law, for 14 year olds:

14 is the minimum age for employment in specified occupations outside of school hours for limited periods of time each day and each week. Fourteen- and 15-Year-Olds May Not Be Employed:

  • DURING SCHOOL HOURS [with some exceptions]
  • BEFORE 7 a.m. or AFTER 7 p.m. except from June 1 through Labor Day when the evening hour is extended to 9 p.m.

There is a section on minimum allowed wage payment to young workers, and also a list of allowed types of work for 14 and 15 year old's. The type of household helper tasks described definitely fell within what was allowed for child labor. The same page details what sort of forms need to be filled out. I think this is something that is done quite commonly.

Here are specifics in New York State for minimum wage for minors and for employing 14 year olds.

  • One more thing; by formally hiring an employee, you may be subject to OSHA guidelines regarding hazardous work environments; specifically any chemicals you may want used in the household work. Even something as everyday as bleach can have long-term hazardous effects for which you could be liable if you didn't provide the proper protective equipment (gloves) and educate your worker on proper use. – KeithS Aug 28 '12 at 21:32
  • Some of this you are exempt from by hiring a very small number of employees, and other parts don't apply to household work (only commercial/industrial environments). But, some of it still applies; basically if the bottle recommends any protective gear be used, you should make that gear available to your household helper and try to make him use it. – KeithS Aug 28 '12 at 21:35
  • @Jeremy Stein Your question stated that this was work for a "mother's helper" doing "household work a few hours at a time". Parts two and three of your question are addressed in the links that I provided. Parts one and four are not. I could not find anything definitive on Part four. To be legally assured of adequate compliance with all aspects of Federal and New York State child labor laws and taxation requirements, one must consult with labor law and tax professional(s). Both are beyond the scope of this site, I believe. Also, please be aware that I am NOT licensed to provide such advice. – Ellie Kesselman Aug 31 '12 at 15:23

Here is what I was able to find:

1. Do I need to have the child fill out an I-9?

Yes, but there are special instructions for minors:

  • Parent or legal guardian of a minor employee completes Section 1 and writes, "Individual under age 18" in signature space.
  • Parent or legal guardian completes the Preparer and/or Translator Certification block.
  • Employer enters "Individual under age 18" under List B and records the List C document the minor presents.

2. Where can I find the laws about working hours and minimum wage for minors?

Working hours:
New York State labor laws are slightly more strict than the federal:

Minimum wage:
The Dept of Labor's Youth & Labor page states:

Occupations such as babysitting are not subject to the minimum wage law.

No supporting documentation is given.

Another page describes the Youth Minimum Wage Program:

A minimum wage of not less than $4.25 may be paid to employees under the age of 20 for their first 90 consecutive calendar days

However, I can't find any such exception in New York State minimum wage law.

3. Do I need to withhold anything from the paycheck?

According to Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide:

Federal income tax withholding
No, I am not required to withhold federal income taxes from a household employee. If we both want them to be withheld, a W-4 should be submitted to me.

State income tax withholding
No, according to NYS Pub 27:

Withholding income tax (federal or New York State) from wages paid to household employees is voluntary on your part and your employee

Social security and medicare
No, I am not required to withhold FICA taxes because when calculated wages, I should not include:

An employee who is under the age of 18 at any time during the year. Exception: Count these wages if providing household services is the employee's principal occupation. If the employee is a student, providing household services is not considered to be his or her principal occupation.

Unemployment insurance
No, I don't think I have to pay federal unemployment tax. I think the exception for FICA applies to FUTA. For New York (according to Household Employers Guide for Unemployment Insurance), there is an exception for paying state unemployment insurance:

Daytime students who attend elementary or high school (However, you must pay UI taxes on wages you pay these students if you are liable under FUTA.)

4. How do I create a legitimate timesheet and paystub?

I can't find any specific requirements, but aside from numbers of hours times rate of pay, you might want to consider the information required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act:

  • The employee’s rate(s) of pay
  • The basis of the employee’s rate(s) of pay (e.g. by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or other)
  • Whether the employer intends to claim allowances as part of the minimum wage, including tip, meal, or lodging allowances, and the amount of those allowances
  • The employee’s regular pay day designated by the employer in accordance with the frequency of pay requirements in the Labor Law
  • The name of the employer and any "doing business as" names used by the employer
  • The physical address of the employer's main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address if different
  • The telephone number of the employer
  • Any "such other information as the commissioner deems material and necessary"

Also, consider this requirements from the NY Minimum Wage Act

Every employer shall keep true and accurate records of hours worked by each employee covered by an hourly minimum wage rate, the wages paid to all employees, and such other information as the commissioner deems material and necessary, and shall, on demand, furnish to the commissioner or his duly authorized representative a sworn statement of the same.

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