Know the Laws Regarding Minors and ‘Hazardous Duties’ in Internship/Mentorship Programs


Employers often have questions about allowable internship activities. Some of the questions that typically surface include: Are students legally allowed to operate certain machinery? Even if they are, what is my liability for taking on a minor?

While both Indiana and federal laws deem certain duties as hazardous (and thus typically out of the reach of minors), it is often still possible to place minors in roles that expose them to their chosen occupation of interest. In fact, minors determined to be apprentices or student learners are exempt from existing legal barriers and may perform certain hazardous duties.

Student Learner Exemption:
Requirements for hosting a student learner include the following:

  • Enrollment in a course of study and/or training in a cooperative vocational training program in a public school (or in a similar program conducted by a private school).
  • Written agreement between the student, employer, and school coordinator or principal.
  • Work component of the program conducted under the close supervision of an experienced employee.
  • Correlation of safety instructions with the on-the-job training.
  • Schedule of organized and progressive work process to be performed on the job by the student learner

Liability Concerns:
Student learners are no different than any other employee. Employers should call their respective insurance companies with any questions they may have, and individual coverage will vary. Nothing in Indiana law requires a different designation, with respect to liability, for student learners in comparison to regular employees.

More information:
See the Child Labor Checklist  and visit the Indiana Department of Labor page for more information related to federal and state requirements for employing minors, restrictions to work hours, expanded information on what constitutes a “student learner,” and how to obtain work permits. These regulations must still be followed for all employed minors, including student learners.

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