How Old Does a Manager Have to Be?

So I have a 17 year old employee who is easily one of my best (and most mature). She is a real natural in the kitchen and has proven herself to be able to handle most anything that goes on. She has approached me and asked to take on as much responsibility as I give to any of my other shift leaders. Now, we are a small local business and pretty minimally staffed all the time. Certain people have certain tasks that need to be done and night, and for her to take on the responsibility she is asking for would mean that she would often be locking up the store alone. I have stressed this fact to her and she is ok with it. We work on a nice side of town and I believe she will be safe.

My question is, is there a legal age limit for when a person would be allowed to be left alone to close a shop. I have looked through the Colorado labor laws a little bit and have not been able to find anything specific to this. Any help/advice would be appreciated.

You need to check the minor labor laws for your state. Minors aren’t allowed to do certain things because of the potential for getting hurt, handling sharp objects and that sort in the state I moved from. As well as other potential problems that may come up. … 8095305832 … inary=true

After reading through these links and some of the others available on the left side of the page at the first link you should have a pretty clear picture of what the restrictions are and who they apply to.

I have to say that I would never consider putting a 17 year old in that role.

I would reconsider the idea of having someone lock up alone. When I am not in store I leave specific instructions that there are to be at least two people in the store to walkout together at closing. This is normally not an issue because at least one or two usually all hang out after shift until we all leave anyway unless I am staying late doing paperwork. Not that a second person would be able to stop a robbery or something, but one person alone is an inviting target, especially a young female.


I already looked through the Colorado youth labor laws and searched around those pages as you suggested. Still, I can’t find anything that specifically says, ‘anyone under 18 cannot be left alone at a business.’ In fact, most of the age restrictions stop at 16 years old, there is very little that applies to 17 and above.

So, as far as I can tell there is nothing legally wrong with this. I can understand other people having a problem with this based on the individuals age, which I did, too, at first. But she is very adamant about it and with someone as creative and capable as her I would like to encourage her in this rather than be skeptical.

I agree it is a good idea, but that is just not how we have typically done it. What it really comes down to is that we are a small business and there isn’t money for that in the labor. Sometimes there is someone who has stuck around or is just getting done cleaning at the same time the drawer has been counted, but for the most part it is common that the closing person will be locking up by themselves, and for the most part it has just been a stipulation of the job. I don’t think it is really feasible for me to make exceptions for just one person (mainly because people will become disgruntled with this one person for having to stay later than necessary). So am I irresponsible for encouraging what could be a dangerous situation? As I said before, we are on a very nice side of town and an incident of any kind is highly unlikely.

No matter how mature a 17 (or even 18,19,20) year is they are still young and if they are not vested in your actual business (it’s just a job) they will do things from time to time that show their true age.

I also agree that someone so young and female locking up by themself is just asking for trouble.

Maybe change the duties needed to “close” to ensure more safety?

will she be using equipment such as large dough mixers? not sure what the age restriction is on that. Do you serve alcohol? Not sure about colorado, but in KS a 17 year old cannot even touch a container containing alcohol.

A few years ago after problems with an alcoholic manager I promoted a trainee manager (17) to the position and he did a great job for the next 9 months he was with us.
I instilled in him and trained him in staff control and development and all other aspects of manangement.
He still comes into the store, now as a customer, and the difference in him as a person from the shy 15 year old I originally hired is remarkable.
He did a great job for me and grew as a person so I guess it was a “win/win” situation for both parties.
Would I do it again? Probably not.
What age would I have as the lowest for the position? Probably around 19 - 20.
Over the last 2 years I have noticed a dramatic fall in common sense, decline in basic education standards and motivation by younger people. To find one who could step up as a manager today would need to be a person right out of left field.

I am with the ones that say 17 is too young to be a manager and also left alone to close no matter how small or money issues. Mature or not… the criminal sees easy target. Two are an easy target also…but one 17 y/o girl closing… small town or not… this does not sit well. :!:

I think this one pretty much covers it: Prohibited Occupations for Non-Agricultural Employees

Specifically: Workers under 18 are prohibited from working with Power-driven bakery machines.

I have heard this from quite a few places. If you don’t have conveyors, then you are fine though. Operating a mixer is out of course.

I always though that workers under 18 had set hours they could work. Evidently this isn’t the case: … mentType=2

HO 11 generally prohibits the employment of 16- and 17-year-olds in
occupations involved in the operation of power-driven bakery machines.
Prohibited activities include operating, assisting to operate, setting
up, adjusting, repairing, oiling, or cleaning any horizontal or
vertical dough mixer; batter mixer; bread dividing, rounding, or
molding machine; dough brake; dough sheeter; combination bread slicing
and wrapping machine; or cake cutting band saw. The HO also prohibits
the employment of such youth in the occupation of setting up or
adjusting a ``cooky’’ or cracker machine. The prohibitions of the HO do
not differentiate between portable and non-portable equipment, and
models designed for use in the home versus those solely designed for
industrial applications. Therefore, the prohibitions of HO 11 include
the employment of 16- and 17-year-olds to operate even the smallest of
counter-top vertical mixers.
In response to information presented by several restaurants and
employer associations, the Department adopted an enforcement position
in 1990 that it would not assert a violation of HO 11 when a 16- or 17-
year-old employee operated a pizza-dough roller, a type of dough
sheeter, when the machine: (1) Is constructed with safeguards contained
in the basic design so as to prevent fingers, hands, or clothing from
being caught in the in-running point of the rollers; (2) has gears that
are completely enclosed; and (3) has microswitches that disengage the
machinery if the backs or sides of the rollers are removed. This
enforcement position applies only when all the safeguards detailed
above are present on the machine, are operational, and have not been
overridden. In addition, this enforcement position applies only to the
operation of the machine. HO 11 still prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds
from being employed in occupations involving the setting up, adjusting,
repairing, oiling, or cleaning of such pizza-dough rollers. The
Department has restated this position numerous times in response to
written requests and has included this position in its Field Operations
Handbook since at least 1992.

I also know from the experience of a friend that operates several pretzel businesses in malls that teens under 18 are not permitted to operate compression dumpsters which includes loading trash into them even if they do not operate the mechanism. He was fined and the total costs for having a teenager take out the trash at one of his locations was $40,000 even though nothing actually happened.

That is the US government. I would bet that local restrictions are stricter. Even if they aren’t, do you want to count on the intelligence of the inspector?

So… possibly OK to use a dough sheeter… still not OK to use mixer. No mention of conveyor ovens specifically, but “motorized baking equipment” not OK.

I would be this rule (if it exists with regard to ovens) is broken all the time. This would be an interesting story for PMQ to research!

Over the years I got dozens of forearm burns on conventional deck ovens. I have never been hurt by a conveyor.

I personally have “walked” ovens through the certification process. I have never had to disclose or placard an age limit on operation of a conveyor pizza oven. Not sure on the decks.

I had to placard:

Hot surface
Ansi codes for wheel locks, gas restraints
Hazardous conditions - Electrical
Grounding requirements
Moving Parts - Fan Belts
Exhaust Requirements

I have seen some ovens(Blodgett) have a master kill switch since the belt would remain “On” even when the power was shut “Off” (part of the cool down cycle). But with the Lincoln single switch operation they do NOT have a master kill. I have seen people “drawn” up against an oven by the conveyor “snagging” their shirt or apron. It would NEVER drag them into the oven, BUT they could get burned by the surface as their clothing is torn off of them as they are against the oven or trying to push off from the oven.

Interesting what codes or laws dictated the age restriction on the sheeters and mixers, maybe it was the same bunch that had to warn us not to allow children to crawl in 5 gallon containers.

If in doubt check with your insurance company. Your local city official would only say “Let’s consult the owner’s manual”. I have yet to see an OEM ever state an age requirement. The insurance company would be the final say on how old someone needs to be to operate certain pieces of equipment. Since, if there was a claim, it would be their checkbook covering it. Possibly have them provide you with a written statement for your records.

Marcus the USDL states under federal law what equipment and types of jobs that underage employees are allowed and not allowed to operate or do in a non-agriculture environment. Yes your insurance carrier might have additional restrictions listed in your policy…that is their own issue. They, the insurance company, cannot overrule the federal laws that protect underage workers. Some states I am sure have stricter restrictions than others on hours worked and types of equipment used…but the basic protections are federal laws and the “final say” is not in the hands of the insurance carriers.

I agree that the Federal Government probably has some ruling on age requirement for operation of equipment specifically. I have NEVER seen or heard of an age requirement for conveyor equipment. I would definitely like to know what age is specified and where that information can be found. Conveyor ovens are used everywhere and I have seen youngsters at fairgrounds helping their parents in the booths to load/unload pizzas.

Bottom line, if the Feds state that 16 is the law, but your insurance company states 18, which age would you go with? and of course vice versa.

With this information, who knows it could change the industry and the placards that would be applied!

It has been a long time since I have looked at those laws, but I
don’t think anyone under 18 can use a knife or oven either. You
could be breaking the minor worker labor laws already if you
are using her in the kitchen. There are also specific hours they
cannot work past, and number of hours they can work. We don’t
even hire under 18 because they are so limited in duties they
can do. Now, maybe that is just here in NY, but you should do
more research to be sure. Still I would wait til she is at least 18
til givivng her that responsibility.

I scanned the federal rules for conveyor and found nothing to do with ovens… with that said, the rules clearly include “power-driven bakery machines” and the age is 18 not 16.

So are conveyors included? Hmmmm a grey area?

BTW, I do not CHOOSE which set of rules to observe between insurance and government. The government says I can hire 16 years to deliver… my insurance company says 18. I do not pick the rule I like in that instance.

This has been an interesting dialog. I can tell you that nobody under 18 in our store is going to be using the mixer and I would like to get more clarity on the conveyor oven thing, but in the mean time, they will not be touching that either.

Aside from the insurance thing, have a look at the story I posted above about my buddy that owns a pretzel business. The feds fined him 40K for letting a 16 year old load trash in a compression dumpster even though the employee was not hurt and did not even operate the machine… just put the trash in there and was observed doing so by an OSHA official. (Who was staking out the dumpster looking for exactly that violation)