In the United States, many young people seek their first job to gain experience and earn additional income. While most employers look for 16-year-old candidates or older, some restaurants give an opportunity to younger kids of 14 years old.
Why do they do it? Because most employers benefit from the support of young people, who are much less tired, are willing to work more, and their pay is not as high compared to full-time adult employees.
However, 14-year-olds still have specific conditions to be able to work, especially in places where food is handled.
Top 5 Restaurants that Hire Teenagers
Type of restaurant: Fast food chain specializing in burgers.
Possible Activities: At McDonald’s, 14-year-olds can perform duties such as cleaning, food preparation, and customer service under the supervision of more experienced employees.
Type of restaurant: Fast food chain specializing in chicken.
Possible Activities: At Chick-fil-A, 14-year-olds can take on roles such as food preparation, customer service, and cleaning while receiving the training necessary to perform their tasks efficiently.
Type of restaurant: Fast food chain specializing in burgers and ice cream.
Possible Activities: At Culver’s, 14-year-olds can perform duties such as customer service, food preparation, and cleaning, providing a friendly and quality environment for customers.
Type of restaurant: Fast food chain specializing in ice cream and desserts.
Possible Activities: At Dairy Queen, 14-year-olds can perform tasks such as customer service, food preparation, and cleaning, contributing to the efficient operation of the restaurant.
Type of restaurant: Fast food chain specializing in sandwiches.
Possible Activities: At Subway, 14-year-olds can perform duties such as food preparation, sandwich assembly, customer service, and work area maintenance.
Is it legal to work at age 14?
Under U.S. federal labor regulations, 14- and 15-year-olds may work in non-industrial jobs on limited hours and under certain conditions. These conditions include:
- Restrictions on the hours of work,
- The maximum length of the workday,
- And the tasks allowed.
It is important to note that labor laws may vary by state, so it is necessary to consult the specific regulations of the state where the restaurant is located.
However, there is an initiative proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor called YouthRules!, where you can get information on rules and rights for young workers, their parents, educators, and employers.
Here you will find data for Agricultural Jobs and Non-Agricultural Jobs for teenagers between 12 and 18 years or older.
In the case of restaurants (Non-Agricultural), the most relevant things you should know are:
Hours of work: (from the U.S. Department of Labor website)
“If you are 14 or 15 years old, you can only work outside of school hours. The federal youth employment requirements limit the times of day and the number of hours that you may work as well. You may not work:
- More than 3 hours on a school day, including Friday;
- More than 18 hours per week when school is in session;
- More than 8 hours per day when school is not in session;
- More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session; and
- Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.
If you are home schooled, attend private school, or no school, a “school day” or “school week” is any day or week when the public school where you live while employed is in session. There are some exceptions to the hours standards for 14- and 15 year-olds if you have graduated from high school, you are excused from compulsory school attendance, or you are enrolled in an approved Work Experience or Career Exploration Program or Work-Study Program.
Jobs that you are allowed to do: (from the U.S. Department of Labor website)
- “Most retail occupations, including cashiering, selling, price marking, packing and shelving;
- Intellectual or creative work such as computer programming, teaching, tutoring, singing, acting, or playing an instrument;
- Errands or delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transportation;
- Clean-up and yard work which does not include using power-driven mowers, cutters, trimmers, edgers, or similar equipment;
- Certain work in connection with cars and trucks, including dispensing gasoline or oil, and car washing or hand polishing
- Some kitchen and food service work including reheating food, washing dishes, cleaning equipment, and limited cooking;
- Cleaning vegetables and fruits, wrapping sealing, and labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking of items when performed in areas separate from a freezer or meat cooler;
- Loading or unloading objects for use at a work site including rakes, hand-held clippers, and shovels;
- 14- and 15-year-olds who meet certain requirements can perform limited tasks in sawmills and woodshops; and
- 15-year-olds who meet certain requirements can perform lifeguard duties at traditional swimming pools and amusement parks.”
How much you should earn: (from the U.S. Department of Labor website)
“An employer must pay you at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all the hours that you work, except under certain circumstances. Employers can pay you a wage based on an hourly rate, a piece rate, a day rate, a salary, or any combination – but your hourly earnings must average at least the applicable minimum wage. Your state laws may require a higher wage rate, so be sure to contact your local state office for more information.
If you are under 20 years of age, you can be paid $4.25 per hour during your first consecutive 90 calendar days of working for an employer. Certain full-time students, student learners, apprentices, and workers with disabilities can be paid less than the minimum wage under special certificates issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.”
What experience must a young person have to work in a restaurant?
In general, most restaurants that hire 14-year-olds do not require prior experience, as young employees are expected to acquire skills and knowledge while working. However, qualities such as responsibility, punctuality, ability to work in a team, and positive attitude are valued.
On the other hand, restaurants often provide adequate training for young people to perform their duties efficiently and safely.
For a teenager to start working at an early age is admirable. Although his main duty should be to study, he will ultimately develop valuable skills and gain experience before entering the work field; he will understand the value of effort and responsibility.
On the other hand, besides these 5 restaurants that are mostly fast food, there are many other options to work.
Here we tell you about other alternatives: What Jobs can you Get at 14 Years Old? + 20 Companies hiring.
- About YouthRules! (2023, July 12th). In U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/youthrules