HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Compliance

HR Challenges: Dress Codes, Time-Off Requests, Employing Minors

As the temperature rises, employers may face challenges related to enforcing dress codes, managing time-off requests, ensuring heat-related safety, addressing allergies, handling furloughs, and understanding the rules governing minors and interns. This and the next Tip of the Week will address various summer scenarios, along with best practice information on how to address each issue.

Appropriate attire:

Now is a good time to remind your employees of your dress and grooming standards. If you adopt a more relaxed dress code during the spring and summer months, provide employees with guidance on what is acceptable and what is not, such as "open-toed shoes are permitted, flip flops are not."

And unless your business must have gender-specific dress codes, the best practice is to adopt a gender-neutral dress code. Give employees a broad list of appropriate summer/spring attire and allow them to choose what to wear from the list. As with any dress code, you may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disability or sincerely held religious beliefs and practices.

If you learn that an employee has violated your rules, consider what can be done to resolve the issue that day, such as allowing the employee to wear a company shirt to cover prohibited clothing or sending the employee home to change. If you ask the employee to go home to change, allow the employee to use accrued paid time off for the missed time.

Managing time-off requests:

As the weather heats up, you will likely see an increase in time-off requests, especially among employees who held off on taking vacations during the peak of the pandemic. Make sure you have a plan for managing these requests while ensuring adequate staffing for your business. The following are some practices employers may use to help manage vacation requests:

  • Early deadline. Consider requiring all summer vacation requests to be submitted by a certain date. Choose a reasonable deadline based on your business needs.
  • Incentives. Some employers provide incentives for employees to take time off during less desirable times of the year. For example, some provide an extra day of vacation or offer premium pay for working during peak vacation periods.
  • Block-out periods. Some employers implement block-out periods during which vacations are off limits. This can help employers meet demands during peak business periods.

Whatever strategy you choose, have a written policy that governs your time-off practices and is widely communicated to employees and new hires. Also give supervisors guidance on handling time-off requests and hold them accountable for ensuring adequate staffing levels and enforcing your policy consistently.

Employment of minors:

As the school year nears its end, many students look for summer jobs. Employers that hire minors have to keep in mind federal and state laws related to permissible working age, prohibited occupations, and the hours minors are allowed to work under the law. The following is a summary of some of these requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Note: State requirements may be more stringent than the requirements provided under the FLSA. Employers should also check their state law before hiring minors in order to ensure compliance.

  • Age requirements. Under the FLSA, the minimum age to work a non-agriculture job is generally 14 years old; however, some jobs have higher minimum age requirements. Some states require proof-of-age certificates for minors, which can be obtained from the state's Department of Labor (DOL) or the minor's school district. Additionally, many states require minors to have a work permit or working papers before they can begin employment.
  • Limits on hours worked. The FLSA and many state laws restrict the hours a minor can work. Under the FLSA, when school isn't in session, 14- and 15-year-olds may work up to 40 hours in a week and up to eight hours in a day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. While there are no federal limits on the hours worked by 16- and 17-year-old workers, some states do impose such restrictions.
  • Types of jobs. The FLSA prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from working in any occupation that is deemed hazardous by the DOL. A list of these occupations can be found at 29 CFR §570.50 through 29 CFR §570.68. Additionally, individuals under the age of 16 are generally excluded from all manufacturing, mining, processing, public messenger, or machine-tending work. They are also excluded from transportation, warehouse work, construction, communications, and public utility occupations, except for office or sales work in connection with these occupations. Click here to visit the DOL website for more information.
  • Meal and rest breaks. While the FLSA does not have special meal and rest break rules for minors, some states do. Check your state law to ensure compliance.


The spring and summer can present a number of challenges for employers, and we will cover more of them next week.

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