• print
  • decrease text sizeincrease text size
main content

Your Rights
Youth Minimum Wage

Employees under the age of 20 are not entitled to the same rights as employees over the age of 20. One of the most important differences between them is minimum wage. The DOL issued Fact sheet #32, which explains that youth workers may be paid less than the national minimum wage. Click on the questions below to learn more about the youth minimum wage.

1. What is the youth minimum wage?

Under FLSA section 6(g), employers may pay their employees who are under the age of 20 a lower minimum wage of at least $4.25 an hour. However, they may only do so for a period of 90 calendar days, not workdays.

2. Who may be paid the youth minimum wage?

Only employees under the age of 20 for the first 90 day period after initial employment.

3. Which employers may use the youth minimum wage?

Unless prohibited by State or local law, all employers subject to the FLSA may pay their employees under the age of 20 the youth minimum wage for the initial 90-day period. Only employers who make $500,000 or more in annual sales or those who are involved in interstate commerce are subject to the FLSA. If State or local law requires a higher minimum wage and makes no exceptions for employees under the age of 20, then the higher wage standard applies.

4. When does the 90-day period start and end?

The 90-day period starts on and includes the employee’s first day of work, not when the employee is offered the job or hired. The 90 day period is counted by consecutive calendar days, not by the amount of days the employee works. It does not matter how many days or hours the young employee works during this period.

5. What if the employee turns 20 years old during the 90 period?

Young employees may only be paid the youth minimum wage up until the day before their 20th birthday. On and after their birthday, the employee must be paid the applicable minimum wage.

6. May an eligible young employee be paid the youth minimum wage by more than one employer?

Yes. Employees under the age of 20 may be paid the youth minimum wage for 90 consecutive days after they are initially employed. This is true of any employer with whom the young employee works. The fact that a young employee is employed by 2 or more employers at one time does not impact their employer’s right to pay the employee the youth minimum wage.

7. There are many groups of workers that may be paid subminimum wages, such as full-time students. May employers combine these classifications to pay its youth employees less than $4.25 an hour?

No. Special subminimum wages are authorized by FLSA section 14 and are informed by the regular FLSA minimum wage. These special classifications may not be combined with the youth minimum wage established by FLSA section 6(g).

8. Does the youth minimum wage increase when the FLSA minimum wage increases?

No. An eligible youth may still be paid $4.25 an hour for the initial 90-day period even if the FLSA minimum wage increases.

9. May an employer fire an employee to hire an employee eligible for the youth wage?

No. It is illegal for an employer to fire one employee to hire someone eligible for the youth minimum wage. Neither may the employer reduce hours, wages, or employment benefits for the purpose of employing another at the youth minimum wage. To do so is a violation of the anti-displacement provision in FLSA section 15(a)(3).

10. What does “displacement” mean?

Displacement means being fired, or having any reduction in hours, benefits, or wages.

11. May an employer hire employees under the age of 20 to terminate them at the end of the 90-day period?

No, an employer may not terminate an employee in order to pay another at the youth minimum wage. Similar to the conduct in Question 9, this would be considered an illegal violation of the anti-displacement provision of the FLSA.

12. What obligations do employers have to employees who they illegally displaced?

Illegally displaced employees are entitled to “make whole” relief. Examples of “make whole” relief are being reinstated to their previous or equivalent position, being paid lost wages, etc.

13. Does a violation of the anti-displacement provision make the employer ineligible to pay the youth wage to otherwise eligible employees?

No. Displacement violations do not make an employer ineligible to pay youth wage to employees under the age of 20.

  • Tracking image for JustAnswer widget
  • Find an Employment Lawyer

  • Support Workplace Fairness

Follow us on:


Find an Employment Attorney

The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases. Please note that Workplace Fairness does not operate a lawyer referral service and does not provide legal advice, and that Workplace Fairness is not responsible for any advice that you receive from anyone, attorney or non-attorney, you may contact from this site.

Tracking image for JustAnswer widget