Minor Lifeguards and the FLSA

Summer isn’t yet in full swing, but it is already hot here in Atlanta. One of the great summer jobs is lifeguarding, but it is employment that brings with it potential hazards, especially for people under the age of 18.

Lifeguards who are minors have their own classification under the Youth Employment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Department of Labor defines the duties of a lifeguard as rescuing swimmers in danger of drowning, monitoring activities at a swimming pool to prevent accidents, teaching water safety, and providing assistance to patrons. Lifeguards may also help to maintain order and cleanliness in the pool and pool areas, give swimming instructions, conduct or officiate at swimming meets, and administer first aid. Other ancillary duties may include checking towels in and out, and perhaps working with food.

Here are some highlights of restrictions on minors working in pool areas or water parks:

Sixteen and Seventeen-year-olds employed as lifeguards may perform any nonhazardous job, for unlimited hours. The hazardous jobs that they cannot be asked to do include operating some dangerous, power- driven equipment, and are limited in driving duties. They also can’t operate power-driven hoists such as elevators, cranes, derricks, and high-lift trucks. However, 16- and 17-year-olds may operate and assist in the operation of most water amusement park and recreation establishment rides.

Fifteen- Year- Olds. Fifteen-year-olds, but not youth less than 15 years of age, may be employed as lifeguards at traditional swimming pools and most facilities of water amusement parks based. Such employment must meet the following conditions:

–The 15-year-old must be trained and certified by the American Red Cross, or a similar certifying organization, in aquatics and water safety; and

–The 15-year-old must be employed in compliance with all the other applicable provisions of the federal youth employment rules.

Fifteen- year- olds can work in a water park, but they can’t work with chemicals or run the rides.
Nobody under sixteen can be employed as lifeguards at natural environment facilities such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs, wharfs, piers, or ocean-side beaches.

Fourteen and Under. Nobody under the age of 15 can be employed as a lifeguard, but they can perform other work at a pool, as long as those job hours and duties comply with all of the regulations of youth employment.

This is just an overview of some of these regulations. If you have any questions about whether or not you, or someone you know, have been asked to work in violation of these rules, contact an employment attorney for a full evaluation of your situation.