Caution! Kids at Work: Pros, Cons & Legal Implications of Hiring Under 18
As a parent of a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, I want to give them the gift of an introduction to what it’s really like to be employed and contribute to a team. All the expectations and responsibilities of adulting may come as a shock to some. My goal is to provide enough guidance and clarity so that my kiddos can become so self-reliant that they put my “mommying” out of business! Outside of my own personal goals for my children, are there benefits to having anyone under 18 years old work in a dental office? Exactly what are the pros, cons, and legal implications of “bring your kids to work” day… every day?
Children in the office can help to fill positions more easily that you may have open and are unable to fill:
- Sterilization technician
- Dental assistant with on-the-job training
- Cleaning in general
- Assistance in organizing
- Assistance in streamlining procedures
- Scanning documents and/or updating chart information
- Social Media posting/ marketing
- Chart audits etc.
If the children happen to be the practice owner’s own kiddos, the potential for perks are:
- If the adolescent is thinking of taking over the family business, it would be an excellent learning opportunity to shed light on what having a career in a dental office is actually like and to potentially help them be accepted into a dental school having that intimate experience.
- The team gets to see the whole family pitching in and pulling together to contribute to the business, which is good for morale.
- Great work experience in general.
- The practice could save 7.65% in tax benefits for hiring your child vs someone else’s (due to the Practice’s FICA & Medicare contributions). It is not that much but it is something!
Optional monetary perks for any youth employed anywhere:
Custodial Roth IRA
Any parent can open a Custodial Roth IRA for their own kids so they can get a leg up on their retirement savings. What a great opportunity to contribute their earnings to their own retirement and not just throw their earnings away frivolously! Starting so young saving for retirement and utilizing the power of compounding interest would make Einstein proud! He stated, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… he who doesn’t… pays it” and “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” The guardian could then contribute to their children’s Roth IRA up to the maximum of what their child earned or $6,500 (whichever is less). Then, once they turn of age and with some paperwork, the Custodial Roth IRA would be converted to their name.
529 Savings Plan
If this employed youth happens to have a 529 educational savings plan and does not use all the funds in it, up to $35,000 of those funds can be moved into their Roth to further compound their interest.
- In 2023 for single filers, the standard deduction is $13,850. If the kids are earning less than that amount, they are not paying taxes on it, including social security taxes and Medicare taxes. Also, any Roth IRA contributions are not taxed when the contributions are made nor later when taken out of the Roth. (The Practice will still pay state and federal taxes regardless of the amount of income the minor earns.)
- For more on taxable income and when to file taxes: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/family/at-what-income-does-a-minor-have-to-file-an-income-tax-return/L6HOdGp6i
As the Practice pays that income out in the form of employee wages, it could potentially keep the Practice in a lower tax bracket on other taxable income. Their wages are a deductible expense to the business.
- Children may prove to be more difficult to manage – especially if they are your own kids at work. Are your children receptive to your coaching?
- If the minor is your own, the team may speculate about potential favoritism. This might create conflict with other employees.
- Team members may wonder if your own children are being overpaid for their job description and what functions they perform.
- There are risks associated with claims of harassment/ abuse when hiring underage youth that are not your own.
Legal Considerations of Kids at Work
Minors under 14 may not be employed unless their employer is their parent.
Work permits are not required for any minors as long as they are enrolled in school. This is sometimes a requirement in other states.
This depends on the child’s age. Children under 16 can work up to three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, 8 hours on a non-school day, 40 hours in a non-school week. Those over 16 do not have these restrictions.
All employees, regardless of age, must be paid at least minimum wage. Their pay should reflect whatever job duties they are assigned and match that of any other position of a similar employee.
Not allowed to use heavy machinery.
The above is for the state I live in, Kansas. Be sure to check the specific laws that apply to your state, contact your state, and consult your HR specialists.
Is Having Kids at Work Right for You?
If you are considering employing your own children, have a discussion with them about whether they think it would or would not be a positive experience for them. Would you both be comfortable with it? When you are at work are you still “mom” or “dad” or are you “Dr. X” and “Mr./ Mrs. X”? You will be the Practice Administrator/ Office Manager to them, just like to everyone else on the team. Give them their list of duties and responsibilities. Be transparent with your team about where your child will fit into the practice.
Have a meeting with the team about it and ask for their concerns. Are there solutions to ensure that their fears are allayed?
If you do decide to employ the underaged after you have checked the boxes, crossed the Ts and dotted the Is, sit back and enjoy the ride! Their youth and vigor will keep you laughing and on the cutting edge of all the current memes and lingo so you can “slay” the day!
About the Author
Melissa Smith, BS, RDH, FAADOM
Melissa is an office manager at her husband’s dental office in Prairie Village, KS. She graduated from UMKC with a degree in dental hygiene and practiced for 15 years, also serving in various roles in the Greater Kansas City Dental Hygienist’s Association, including as the organization’s president. She has been an AADOM member since 2018 and earned her Fellowship in 2021. Most recently, Melissa serves as the president of the AADOM Kansas City Chapter.