Summer Student Hiring

Summer Student Hiring

By Annette Satterly, Risk Management Associate

Every district is having difficulty filling every position that is needed. While necessity may be the mother of invention, there are still things that need to be remembered when hiring students.

When considering this option, please consider the following questions:

  • Have you read or referred to the child labor laws and Fair Labor Standards Act?
  • How old is the student in question?
  • What exactly would the job entail?
  • Who will be supervising this individual?
  • Have you contacted your legal staff?


Two sets of laws apply to child workers in Montana. The first is the Montana Child Labor Standards Act of 1993 at Title 41, Chapter 2, Montana Code Annotated. This protects young workers from employment that might interfere with their educational opportunities or that could be detrimental to their health and well-being. The second is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal standard that establishes child labor standards in addition to minimum wage, overtime pay, whistleblower/non-retaliation protection, and record-keeping standards.

Whenever a school district hires a student to serve as a district employee, the hiring process should follow standard hiring procedures. The student should complete an application and criminal background check and be approved by the board of trustees. Further, their personnel file should be kept separate from the student file. Any discipline imposed on the employee will not affect the student’s enrollment or educational status. Also, by regulation, the district must keep records of the dates of birth of employees under the age of 19. The personnel file also must include the student’s daily starting and quitting times, their daily and weekly hours of work, and their occupations.




A minor who is under the age of 14, may not be employed in or in connection with an occupation unless it appears in the list of exceptions below:


All minors regardless of age may be employed:

  • By their parents or guardians (except in manufacturing, mining, and other hazardous occupations
  • In casual, community, non-revenue raising uncompensated activities (such as religious or charitable volunteer work).
  • As an actor, model, or performer.
  • As an official or referee for a non-profit athletic organization. A minor under the age of 14 may not officiate at adult events or activities.
  • In agriculture or farming with the written consent of their parents or guardians; on a farm or in a home owned by their parents or guardians; on a farm where their parent or guardian is employed
  • In the delivery or collection of newspapers, periodicals, or circulars.
  • As a legislative aide.
  • In casual domestic work at a person’s home.

A minor who is 14 or 15 years of age may not be employed:

  • During school hours, except as provided for in Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs approved by OPI.
  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. Except that the minor may be employed until 9:00 p.m. during the periods outside the school year (June 1 – Labor Day, depending on local standards).
  • More than 3 hours on a school day.
  • 18 hours in a school week.
  • 8 hours on a non-school day; and
  • 40 hours in a week in a non-school week.

Please remember that these bullets may also apply to school-to-work programs and other work-based learning experiences. It is highly recommended to check all times proposed with your legal staff.


Minors aged 14 and 15, cannot operate power-driven equipment such as lawnmowers and power-driven string trimmers or work at heights. They can perform other domestic garden and lawn care chores using hand-operated devices such as shovels, rakes, hoes, etc. They may do office and clerical work.

Minors aged 16 and 17, do not have time limitations and can generally perform a wider range of activities. There are still restrictions on operating motor vehicles, certain power tools, and working at heights. Unless working as an apprentice or student-learner under 41-2-110 MCA, a minor of 16 or 17 years of age may not be employed in or in connection with hazardous occupations.

Please remember that this was written by someone who focuses on safety. I would be very leery to allow students to work with certain chemicals or to mix any chemicals.

Below is a chart that shows the age at which a student can operate certain lawn equipment:



  • Manufacturing and storing explosives
  • Riding outside a motor vehicle to assist in transporting/delivering goods
  • Coal mining (All Mining)
  • Logging and Saw Milling
  • Operating power-driven woodworking machines
  • Exposure to radio-active substances
  • Operating power-driven hoisting apparatus, such as non-automatic elevators, forklifts, and cranes
  • Operating power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines
  • Slaughtering, meat packing, processing, or rendering
  • Operating power-driven bakery machines
  • Operating power-driven paper-product machines
  • Manufacturing brick, tile, and similar products
  • Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears
  • Wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations
  • Roofing operations
  • Excavation Operations


Most employees need basic directions to start a task and someone to go to with questions. Students generally require more attention. They will need to be trained on all equipment they are to use and how to do that safely. They will need to be informed as to what they can and can’t do throughout the day – be specific. They will need to be reminded about dress codes and what to wear to conduct the necessary task. For example, in the summer, students want to get a tan. They need to be reminded about the effects of the sun and the benefits of hats, long sleeves, and sunscreen. They will also need to be reminded to drink enough fluids. They also must be monitored to ensure they are not taking on tasks that are prohibited. Many students will see something that needs to be done and take it upon themselves to do it. This may involve a task they are not supposed to undertake. A good class to assist with ideas is the Supervisor Role in Safety Class available through the Safe Schools platform.


While we do encourage phone calls and emails placed to our offices about this topic, we also encourage contacting the MTSBA legal staff. They are highly versed in these issues and will gladly walk you through this process. They may be reached at  Return to newsletter