Best Practices for Hiring Your Own Child as Summer Help

9-4As summer swiftly approaches, you may be thinking of ways to keep your child busy during the three month break. If you own a business, you may consider allowing him or her to work part-time there. But it’s not as simple as just giving your kid a time card and putting their names on the schedule. You have to find the right balance to make sure that both your business is running smoothly and your kid gain some valuable experience.

Tip #1: Know the Laws in Your State

There was a time when the only permission you needed for your child to work a few shifts at your business was your own. But now that federal and state employment laws regulated many labor processes, you really need to make sure there isn’t any law against your child working for your business. If it’s not legal, you want to stay away from it.

Child labor laws can vary depending on the state you live in. Many do make exceptions in terms of pay, hours work, and taxes for children of the owners, but that’s something you need to confirm with your state legislation. Start here to research any local laws that might affect whether you can hire your child for the summer.


Tip #2: Choose An Age Appropriate Position

A common mistake many business owners make is putting their children in positions they can’t perform well in. Hiring your 17 year old to be your bookkeeper can be a bad idea. You also want to avoid giving a ten year old the job of being accountable for large amounts of cash. An eight year old probably shouldn’t be transcribing reports.

Fortunately, you are the best judge of your child’s skill and maturity level. Take a hard look at the responsibilities of the position you’re hoping to put your child in and ask yourself if he can perform each one without excessive help from you or other employees.


Tip #3: Do Everything You Can to Treat Them Like a Regular Employee

The fact that this is your child shouldn’t change much about the way you treat your newest employee. You can cause drama in the workplace if it seems like he’s getting perks the rest of the staff isn’t getting. It can also cause dissension if your other employees feel like they are being asked to babysit in addition to doing their own jobs. This is especially true if your child’s direct supervisor will be someone other than you.

Take the whole process seriously. I’ve heard of some parents actually requiring that their children write a resume with their skills and accomplishments to get a job at the family business. You could just as easily ask them to write an essay (of age appropriate length) about why they want to work for you this summer. You can do a mini interview, too. This gives them a chance to see what the process is like and it also shows them just how you serious you are about this.

At the very least, make it clear to your child that you expect them to work for their pay just like anyone else you hire. Have a frank discussion about his responsibilities. You should also have a discussion about what happens when they don’t do what you or the employees you have supervising them ask.

And follow through on these rules, too. If the penalty at your business for coming in late is docked pay, then your child is subject to the same rules. It will help you lead by example to both your employees and your child.


Tip #4: Make Time for Kid Stuff, Too

Summer jobs are great for teaching responsibility, giving a glimpse at what a future career may be like, or earning some extra cash. But the summer break is also for doing kid stuff. Going on vacation, playing with friends, and just enjoying a little down time are also important. Be sure that whatever job you’ve given your child is one that allows time for them to be a kid, too.

Use your best parental judgement on this one. Tally up the hours he’s working a week, assess his energy level and take notice of how much kid time he’s getting. If you feel that things are out of balance, you can always make adjustments. And if it becomes a question of what’s best for your business and what’s best for your child’s welfare, remember there are more important things than a summer job.


Bio: Amanda Greene is author and Brand Manager for Residence Hall Linens. She enjoys writing about college life and education topics.

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