Hiring Teens This Summer Better Know YESA

June 5, 2002
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LANSING — If you’re thinking about hiring high school students for the summer, then you should also be aware of the Youth Employment Standards Act (YESA).

Apparently a Macomb County business owner wasn’t, and now he has a court appearance resulting from an inquiry into the shooting death of a 16-year-old employee.

Kenneth Lynn Cook, Jr., owner of Mancino’s Pizzeria and Grinders in New Baltimore, faces charges of working a minor without a work permit, without a required meal or rest period, and without adult supervision while handling cash. Cook has also been charged with working a minor for too many hours when his work and school schedules were combined.

All four counts are misdemeanors. Three are punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $500, or both for each count. The fourth, the lack of adult supervision while handling cash, is punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.

Cook is facing a maximum of four years in prison and fines totaling up to $3,500.

The charges were filed last month by the Macomb County Prosecutor in 42nd District Court.

The Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services conducted the investigation, one of about 1,000 it does annually under the act, which became state law in 1978.

“In about 99 percent of these investigations we are able to quickly gain compliance by educating the employer about YESA and the safe and legal employment of minors. However, this case is the exception because it involved the death of a minor employee,” said Kathy Wilbur, CIS director.

“When there is an injury or death of an employee who is a minor, CIS investigates and the findings are turned over to the local prosecutor for issuance of a warrant against the employer if it is determined that there is a violation of the YESA. On average, the department makes 8 to 10 referrals a year to local prosecutors,” she added.

YESA requires that minors can’t work more than five hours without a half-hour break, use power-driven machines, or handle any chemicals marked with a “danger” warning. There are other restrictions for teens based on their age.

Here are some of the requirements for 14- and 15-year-olds:

  • Can work from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. for up to 48 hours of combined work and school per week.
  • Can perform delivery or errand work by foot, bicycle or public transportation.
  • Can do grounds maintenance using non-powered tools only. No lawn mowers, cutters or tractors.
  • Can do kitchen work using paring knives and serrated-edge knives.

Here a few requirements for 16- and-17-year-olds:

  • Can work from 6 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday) for up to 48 hours of combined school and work per week.
  • Can do cashiering and sales, but not sell cigarettes or alcohol.
  • Can do delivery and errand work by foot, bicycle or public transportation.
  • Can’t be employed for the transportation of people or property.

For more information on YESA, contact the Wage & Hour Division at (517) 322-1825 or visit the Web site at www.cis.state.mi.us/bsr/divisions/wh

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, between 60 to 70 minors die from work-related accidents nationwide each year, while thousands more require emergency room treatment or hospitalization.

“This case sends a clear message to employers that they will be held accountable for failing to abide by the laws that were created to protect working teens,” said Wilbur of the New Baltimore incident. “This summer alone we estimate that the teen-age labor force in Michigan will be well over 400,000.”

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