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Ask The Waldmans

Posted in Articles, Archive
Ask The Waldmans

With Stanley and Jill Waldman

Hiring A Teen-ager

Dear Waldmans: Lately, I have seen advertisements on television about hiring teen-agers. After thinking about employing a teen-ager at my storage facility, I have decided it would be a good idea. After all, it would give a teen-ager a chance to make money and gain good experience during the summer. Have you ever employed a teen, and if so, what is important in the hiring process? I am sure there are advantages and disadvantages.

--Employing Teens in Vicksburg, Miss.

Dear Employing Teens: I give you a lot of credit for wanting to employ a teen-ager for the summer. So many teens want to work, and either they cannot find a job, or people are just too afraid to hire them. After all, teens need an opportunity to make their own money and learn what work is all about. It not only gives them a chance to learn and grow, but the experience will be endearing for you, as well.

My first experience employing a teen-ager was quite unusual. He wanted to work (or he thought he wanted to work), but he had not figured out what real work involved. It was also my first experience working with a teen, so I had to learn right along with him. I had him cleaning, painting (that was the fun part), spraying for bugs and pulling weeds. After a while, I noticed he needed to take a little break after each chore. It was too hot, or he was just too exhausted for all that manual labor.

In the beginning, it seemed I had to baby-sit him in order for the jobs to get completed. At one point, I felt I could do them a lot faster, rather than following him around the facility. That was my fault. I realized that he needed some guidance. On the other hand, I needed more patience. So, we had a long discussion about how we were going to handle this entire employer/employee situation, and then we came up with a plan.

Here are some suggestions you might want to implement in your own plan to hire a teen-ager:

  • Check with the state and federal law requirements before hiring a teen-ager.
  • Make sure the teen-ager is at least 16. Get some written proof, such as a birth certificate and a Social Security card. Make copies of both for the file.
  • Give detailed instructions on what he is supposed to do on the job and how you expect the teen to carry that out. Most teen-agers that are first-time employees are just as nervous as you are about the job. The experience can be very encouraging for a teen-ager- especially one without any prior job experience. We need to remember that teens must be given a chance to work before they can gain real job experience.
  • Go over the work schedule and determine the best hours.
  • Don't let the teen-ager operate any machinery that may endanger him.
  • Explain how the tax forms work and what he can expect to receive with his first paycheck. Many teen-agers are shocked when they get that first check; they don't realize how much the government takes out. That is why this is such a good way to teach them how the "real world" works. It not only helps them, but makes them realize the importance of money. Hopefully, by putting all that work into a job, he will learn how to save some of the earnings.

Several of my teen-agers have come back years later and told me how much they appreciated me giving them a job. That made me feel good, because I questioned whether they really liked me during their employment. Young adults grow through their experiences, and experience is only gained by doing. I give you a lot of credit for traveling into the world unknown. You will not regret giving a teen-ager a chance to learn and grow.

A father-daughter team, Stanley and Jill Waldman are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. Together they have co-authored a number of books on self-storage operations, including Getting Started in the Self-Storage Business, Self-Storage Business Management Forms, The Policy & Procedure Manual for the Self-Storage Business, Selling Your Self-Storage Business and The South Carolina Tools Manual for Self-Storage Operators.

Comments and questions may be sent to: Ask The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413; or via their Web site:

Editor's Note: Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

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