You are on page 1of 11

Chapter 2.

Child Labor Laws and

The Report on the Youth Labor Force was revised in November 2000.

Introduction urban one. Factory towns grew up de- 6 or 7 years were recruited to work 13-
This chapter looks briefly at the his- pendent on a labor supply of women hour days, for miniscule wages, in hot
tory of child labor in the United States, and children, the children working not and dusty factories. Proposals to
and discusses how that history influ- necessarily as apprentices but as fac- change these conditions met with stiff
ences youth employment today. It then tory labor. Children were seen as a opposition. By the turn of the century,
examines the current Federal child la- cheap and manageable source of labor. only a few southern States had passed
bor provisions, provides a comparison Newspaper advertisements of the day laws limiting the number of hours that
of State child labor laws, and discusses reflected the fact that factory manag- children could work.
other government programs that di- ers preferred to hire families with sev- The early 1900s saw a growing ac-
rectly affect the employment of young eral children, and widows with children ceptance of the concept that States
workers. The chapter concludes with were especially favored. should provide for the general protec-
a discussion of the U.S. Department of Child labor in this country was so tion of children. In 1909, the Bureau
Labor’s strategy for combating oppres- widespread, and so much a part of eco- of Labor Statistics issued a landmark
sive child labor and the effectiveness nomic reality in the early part of the report on working women and children.
of its compliance strategy. 19th century, that no one looked toward This 19-volume report confirmed that
or expected its abolition. But as the more children were employed in the
number of factories multiplied and the South than in New England. The re-
History of child labor in child workforce grew, the social con- port also found that, in a substantial
the United States science began to stir—not against child number of cases, children’s earnings
Children have worked in America, con- labor itself, but against some features were essential to meeting their fami-
tributing to the well-being of the fam- of the factory system as they affected lies’ needs, but that in other cases, fami-
ily unit, since the arrival of the first the children. lies would not have suffered financial
colonists. European settlers, bringing The earliest concerns were that fac- hardships if child labor were forbid-
social values with them that equated tory children were growing up without den.2
idleness with pauperism, were quick to receiving even a modest education. By 1913, all but nine States had
pass laws that actually required chil- Long workdays and workweeks left fixed 14 years as the minimum age for
dren to work. For example, in 1641, little time for study. In 1813, Connecti- factory work, and a majority of the
the court of Massachusetts Bay ordered cut enacted a law encouraging manu- States had extended this minimum to
all households to work on wild hemp facturers to provide young employees stores and other specified places of
for clothing, and it was expected that with lessons in reading, writing, and employment.3 Although Congress had
“children should be industriously im- arithmetic, but the law was ineffective. made several attempts to restrict op-
plied (sic).”1 Adopting “poor laws” It was not until 1836 that Massachu- pressive child labor, the attempts had
similar to the English laws, the colo- setts passed this country’s first child failed, usually on constitutional
nies required the apprenticeship of poor labor law—legislation that required grounds. It was not until 1938, with
children—some at ages as young as 3 children under the age of 15 employed the passage of the Fair Labor Stan-
years. Children worked on family in manufacturing to spend at least 3 dards Act (upheld by the Supreme
farms and in family cottage industries. months each year in school. A few Court in 1941) that meaningful Fed-
The institution of slavery also encom- States soon adopted similar laws. eral child labor legislation was en-
passed the labor of children born or After the Civil War, industry ex- acted. The Fair Labor Standards Act
sold into servitude. panded and became increasingly (FLSA) remains the Federal law
The industrial revolution ushered in mechanized. The textile industry flour- governing minimum wages, overtime,
the modern factory system and changed ished in the South and with it, oppres- child labor, and recordkeeping. The
a predominately rural populace into an sive child labor. Children as young as child labor provisions of the FLSA

establish a minimum age of 16 years for employment as part of formal appren- tries is especially apparent when one
covered nonagricultural employment. ticeship, School-to-Work, and Work looks at child labor. As previously
However, they allow 14- and 15-year- Experience and Career Exploration Pro- noted, child labor in industrialized
olds to be employed in occupations grams that are closely linked to the countries almost exclusively means
other than in mining and manufactur- educational process and lead to spe- adolescents who are full-time students
ing if the Secretary of Labor determines cific adult jobs. Only in the last two with part-time jobs. But child labor
that the employment is confined to pe- decades has there been a concerted often wears a much different face in
riods that will not interfere with their effort in the United States to link ado- developing countries.
schooling and to conditions that will lescent work experiences with school The International Labor Organiza-
not interfere with their health and well- curricula to facilitate the transition tion (ILO) estimates that more than 250
being. The FLSA also prohibits minors from student to worker. The little re- million children are working around
under age 18 from working in occupa- search that has been done on why U.S. the world, often in occupations that are
tions that the Secretary of Labor de- teens seek paying jobs suggests that “detrimental to their physical, mental
clares to be particularly hazardous for the primary reason is money, not the and emotional well-being.”8 An esti-
such youths or detrimental to their value of the work experience. 5 E. mated 120 million children work full
health or well-being. Greenberger and G. Steinberg reported time, with no opportunities for educa-
The nature of child labor in the in 1986 that 74 percent of employed tion and the accompanying promise of
United States has changed over the last high school students in their sample a better future. These youths have been
50 years. Child labor now means, al- said money was the primary reason for found working as miners; as laborers
most exclusively, teenagers—teenagers having a job.6 Most working teens in rug, textile, glass, and brick manu-
who are generally full-time students spend their earnings as discretionary facturing establishments; as domestic
and part-time employees. But even income, rather than helping to meet servants; and as prostitutes.
with the increased emphasis on educa- family expenses. And the size and But there is cause for hope. Over
tion and the improved economic con- impact of that discretionary income is the past few years, child labor has
ditions that this century has brought, the enormous. grabbed the attention of the interna-
Nation’s young people are still work- The Nation’s roots also affect the tional community, provoking world-
ing today, and in large numbers. types of jobs legally available to young wide discussion of this issue. Numer-
The unique history of the United workers. The United States began as ous international organizations, gov-
States, which both fostered and over- a nation of farmers, and agriculture ernments in both developing and in-
came some of the most oppressive continues to enjoy a special place in dustrialized countries, and advocacy
types of child labor, still helps to cre- the perceptions of its citizens. Grow- groups are creating and implementing
ate an environment conducive to youth ing up on the family farm, learning strategies and initiatives to address
employment that differs considerably the value of hard work in the fresh air, child labor.
from that of other industrialized na- is still viewed by many as the perfect The United States has taken the
tions. The most often cited difference childhood. Federal and State child lead on a number of fronts. The De-
is that the proportion of teens who work labor laws governing agricultural em- partment of Labor’s Bureau of Inter-
is relatively high in the United States ployment reflect this belief—they are national Labor Affairs has studied and
compared with other developed coun- much less restrictive than those ap- reported on international child labor
tries.4 Americans have always tena- plied to other industries.7 Children in its By the Sweat and Toil of Chil-
ciously believed in the value of work, working on farms owned or operated dren series. The United States also is
for themselves and for their children. by a parent are completely exempt supporting direct action to improve the
They believe that positive work expe- from Federal agricultural child labor lives of working children around the
riences during the teenage years can provisions, and other teenage farm- world by committing $37.1 million to
benefit a person’s development, matu- workers are permitted to perform haz- fund activities that address interna-
rity, and sense of responsibility. Con- ardous jobs at younger ages than are tional child labor, including nearly $30
versely, idleness is associated with de- their counterparts who work in other million in Fiscal Year 1999 to support
linquency. industries. the ILO’s International Program on the
Another difference lies in the rea- Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-
sons why teenagers, who have not yet International child labor IPEC). IPEC initiatives strive to take
completed their formal educations, Although this report concentrates on children out of the workplace and place
seek employment. For the most part, child labor in the United States, it is them in the classroom without jeopar-
the jobs held by U.S. teens are not con- both important and appropriate to dizing family units and incomes.
ceived as stepping-stones on a life ca- mention the circumstances of child
reer path. Other developed countries, workers in other countries. The di-
such as Germany, Denmark, and Swit- chotomy that exists between industri- Federal child labor laws
zerland, have long included adolescent alized countries and developing coun- As mentioned earlier, the Fair Labor

Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) is the ployment of WECEP participants are cation, they also may perform
framework for Federal child labor pro- listed in exhibit 2.2. certain hazardous duties.
visions. The Wage and Hour Division Teenagers 16 years of age and older
of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Em- may work at any time of the day and
• Children aged 12 or 13 may be em-
ployment Standards Administra- for unlimited hours. The FLSA pro- ployed outside of school hours
tion is charged with the enforcement hibits workers under 18 years of age in nonhazardous jobs, but only
of the FLSA. from performing those nonagricultural on the farm on which their par-
To be subject to the provisions of occupations that the Secretary of La- ent works or with the written con-
the FLSA, an employee must be em- bor declares to be particularly hazard- sent of a parent.
ployed by a covered enterprise9 or in- ous for the employment of children • Children under 12 may be em-
dividually engaged in interstate com- under 18 years of age or detrimental ployed outside of school hours
merce or in the production of goods to their health or well-being. There in nonhazardous jobs on farms
for interstate commerce, or in any are currently 17 Hazardous Occupa- not subject to the Fair Labor
closely related process or occupation tions Orders (HOs), which are con- Standards Act (FLSA) minimum
directly essential to such production. tained in Subpart E of Regulations, 29 wage11 if their parent also is em-
Not all employment of young workers CFR Part 570 (Occupations Particu- ployed on that farm, or with paren-
is covered under the FLSA. In addi- larly Hazardous for the Employment tal consent.
tion, some jobs held by youths, such of Minors Between 16 and 18 Years
as delivering newspapers and perform- of Age or Detrimental to Their Health • Children aged 10 or 11 may be
ing in motion pictures and theatrical, or Well-Being). Exhibit 2.3 displays the employed to hand-harvest short-
radio, and television productions, are industries and occupations covered by season crops outside of school
specifically exempted from the child la- the current Hazardous Occupations hours under special waivers grant-
bor provisions of the FLSA. Orders. Certain of the HOs contain ed by the U.S. Department of
limited exemptions that permit bona- Labor.12
Nonagricultural employment. Under fide apprentices and student learners
the FLSA, 16 is the minimum age for to perform otherwise prohibited work As directed by the FLSA, the Sec-
nonagricultural employment, but 14- as part of their on-the-job training. retary of Labor has found and declared
and 15-year-olds may be employed for certain agricultural tasks to be particu-
certain periods—which do not inter- Agricultural employment. Unlike the larly hazardous for employees below
fere with their schooling—in jobs that rules governing nonagricultural em- the age of 16. The Agriculture Haz-
the Secretary of Labor has determined ployment, most of the child labor pro- ardous Occupations Orders (HO/As),
will not interfere with their health and visions applicable to agricultural em- listed in exhibit 2.4, are contained in
well-being. Children under 14 years of ployment are statutory. Under Federal section 570.71 of Regulations, 29 CFR
age are generally too young for formal law: Part 570. As noted, farmworkers as
employment unless they meet a spe- young as 14 years of age may perform
cific exemption.10 However, these • A child working in agriculture on some tasks otherwise prohibited by the
youths may perform tasks where no a farm owned or operated by his or Agricultural Hazardous Occupations
covered employment relationship her parent is exempted from Fed- Orders after completing, and in some
arises—such as babysitting on a part- eral agricultural child labor provi- cases participating in, certain voca-
time, irregular basis or performing sions. tional training programs. The FLSA
minor chores around private homes. prohibits hired farmworkers under 16
The Secretary has promulgated child years of age from working during
• Young farmworkers who are not the school hours, but does not give the
labor provisions governing the em-
children of the farmer employing Secretary of Labor authority to prohibit
ployment of 14- and 15-year-olds; these
them are subject to Federal child their employment during other times
are found in Subpart C of Regulations,
labor provisions that differ by age: of the day or limit the number of daily
29 CFR Part 570 (Child Labor Reg. 3).
Exhibit 2.1 displays the Federal child or weekly hours they may be employed.
labor provisions governing the nonag- • Youths are no longer subject to
ricultural employment of 14- and 15- the Federal agricultural child
year-olds. There are some exceptions labor provisions when they reach Other child labor
to these provisions for students en- 16 years of age. standards
rolled in a State Work Experience and There are other labor standards laws,
Career Exploration Program (WECEP) • Children aged 14 or 15 may per- both State and Federal, that regulate
that have been authorized by the U. S. form any nonhazardous farm job the hours of work, types of jobs, and
Department of Labor. The special child outside of school hours, and, working conditions of children and
labor provisions governing the em- with proper training and certifi- adolescents.

Exhibit 2.1.

Federal Limits on the Hours and the Type of Work
That 14- and 15-Year-Olds May Perform1

Youths 14 and 15 years of age may be employed outside school hours in a variety of nonmanufacturing and
nonhazardous jobs under specified conditions. There are limits on both the duties these youths may perform and
the hours they may work.

Occupation restrictions
Banned from performing most work but may be employed in retail, food service, and gasoline service

Banned from working in manufacturing, processing, or mining, or in any workroom or workplace in
which goods are manufactured, processed, or mined.

Banned from performing any work the Secretary has declared to be hazardous for young workers by
issuing Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs).

Banned from occupations involving transportation, construction, warehousing, or communication, or
occupations involving the use of power-driven machinery.

May perform some cooking at snack bars and in fast-food places in full sight of customers, but banned
from performing baking.

Hours restrictions
The Regulations limit the hours and times of day during which 14- and 15-year-olds may work to:

- outside school hours;
- not more than 40 hours in any one week when school is not in session;
- not more than 18 hours in any one week when school is in session;
- not more than 8 hours in any day when school is not in session;
- not more than 3 hours in any day when school is in session; and
- between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except during the summer (June 1 through Labor Day), when the evening work
- limit is 9 p.m.

Limited exceptions to the hours and occupations standards are permissible for students participating in bona fide Work Experience
and Career Exploration Programs. See exhibit 2.2.

Exhibit 2.2.

Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs (WECEP)
Federal Limits on the Hours and the Type of Work
That Participants May Perform

The WECEP is designed to provide a carefully planned work experience and career exploration program for 14- and
15-year-old youths, including students enrolled in School-to-Work curricula, who can benefit from a career-oriented
educational program. The WECEP is especially conducive to helping youths to become reoriented and motivated
toward education, and to prepare for the world of work.

Occupation restrictions
WECEP participants are subject to the same child labor rules governing the employment of all 14- and
15-year-olds, but the WECEP regulations do allow participants to be employed in certain
occupations otherwise prohibited for minors in this age group, after receiving a variance from the
Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Hours restrictions
The WECEP Regulations permit participants to work more hours and at different times than other 14-
and 15-year olds. WECEP participants may work:

- during school hours;
- not more than 40 hours in any one week when school is not in session;
- not more than 23 hours in any one week when school is in session;
- not more than 8 hours in any day when school is not in session;
- not more than 3 hours in any day when school is in session; and
- between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except during the summer (June 1 through Labor Day), when the evening hour
- is 9 p.m.

The rules governing WECEPs are found in §570.35a of Regulations, 29 CFR Part 570. Approval to operate a WECEP
is granted to State departments of education by the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division for a 2-year
period. In order to participate, youths must be 14 or 15 years of age and be identified by their teachers, counselors,
or other school officials as being able to benefit from the program.

Exhibit 2.3.

The Hazardous Occupations Orders
Federal Ban on the Work Activities of
16- and 17-Year-Olds in Nonagricultural Employment

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes an 18-year minimum age for those occupations that the Secretary of
Labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old minors, or detrimental to their
health or well-being. The rules for the Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs) are provided for in Subpart E of
Regulations, 29 CFR Part 570 (§§570.50 through 570.68). There are currently 17 HOs, which include a partial or
total ban on the following:1

Working with explosives and radioactive materials;

Operating motor vehicles or working as outside helpers on motor vehicles (except in very limited

Mining activities, including coal mining; metal mining; and other mining, including sand and gravel

Operating most power-driven woodworking, and certain metalworking, machines;

Operating power-driven bakery, meat processing, and paper products machinery, including meat slicers and
most paper balers and compactors;

Operating various types of power-driven saws and guillotine shears;

Operating most power-driven hoisting apparatus, such as nonautomatic elevators, forklifts, and cranes;

Most jobs in slaughtering and meatpacking establishments;

Most jobs in excavation, logging, saw-milling, roofing, wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking; and

Most jobs in the manufacturing of bricks, tiles, and similar products.

§570.50 provides a limited exemption from certain of the HOs for bona fide apprentices and student-learners who are at least 16
years of age.

Exhibit 2.4.

The Hazardous Occupations Orders in Agriculture
Federal Ban on Work Activities of Minors Under Age 16
in Agricultural Work

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes a 16-year minimum age for those occupations in agriculture that
the Secretary of Labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous. The Hazardous Occupations
Orders in Agriculture (HO/A) are contained in §570.71 of Subpart E-1 of Regulations, 29 CFR Part 570,
and ban the following work activities in agricultural employment:1

Operating a tractor of over 20 horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its
parts to or from such a tractor;

Operating or assisting to operate any of the following machines:1 corn picker, cotton picker, grain
combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer,
forage blower, auger conveyor, the unloading mechanism of a gravity-type self-unloading wagon or
trailer, trencher, forklift, potato combine, power post-hole digger, power post driver, nonwalking type
rotary tiller, and power-driven circular, band, or chain saws;

Working on a farm in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by a bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding
purposes; or a sow with suckling pigs; or a cow with newborn calf;

Felling, buckling, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with a butt diameter of more than 6 inches;

Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height of over 20 feet;

Driving a bus, truck, or automobile when transporting passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or

Working inside a fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmo-
sphere; in an upright silo within 2 weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in
operating position; in a manure pit; or in a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes;

Handling (including performing certain related duties) or applying pesticides and other agricultural
chemicals classified as Category I or II of toxicity by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide

Handling or using a blasting agent, including dynamite, black powder, sensitized ammonium nitrate,
blasting caps, and primer cord; or

Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia.
§570.52 permits certain vocational agricultural student-learners and those who have successfully completed approved training courses to
perform certain tasks otherwise prohibited by the Agricultural Hazardous Occupations Orders when they are 14 years of age.

State child labor laws. The adoption further limit the number of hours that tional deaths since the 1980s.17 Many
of compulsory school attendance laws youths under 16 years of age can work States have adopted systems of
by the States has done much to curb during a school day or week while “graduated licensing” as a strategy to
oppressive child labor in America. Ev- school is in session. Of those that do reduce automobile crashes involving
ery State also has a child labor law, usu- limit work during the school year, many teens.18 Graduated licensing is a sys-
ally enforced by a State labor depart- permit longer hours of work than al- tem that phases young beginners into
ment, that strives to preserve the lowed by the FLSA. Still other States full driving privileges as they mature
health, education, and well-being of allow teenagers to work later in the and demonstrate that they have ac-
young workers. These laws, which evening than permitted by Federal quired driving skills.
often share extensive overlap in cov- rules.
erage with the FLSA, vary in the level Seventeen States (primarily in the
Occupational Safety and Health Ad-
of protection afforded young workers South) either exempt agricultural em-
ministration and Worker’s Compensa-
for both agricultural and nonagricul- ployment entirely or do not identify it
tion Provisions. The Occupational
tural employment. Within any State as a covered industry under the State’s
Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C. Chap-
law, there may be some provisions that child labor laws.13 Eight States place
ter 15, Section 651 et seq.), enacted in
are more or less restrictive than pro- restrictions on agricultural employment
1970, requires that employers provide
visions of the Federal law. If both the similar to Federal standards.14 Eight
work and places of employment that
State and Federal law apply to the States have restricted daily or weekly
comply with specific safety and health
same employment situation, the more hours of work, or both, for minors un-
standards and that are free from other
stringent standard of the two must be der the age of 18 employed in agricul-
recognized hazards that may cause se-
obeyed. The level of enforcement of ture.15 Twelve States impose a higher
rious physical harm. Working children
State laws also varies widely. age standard than do the Federal pro-
and adolescents are entitled to the
While the laws differ from State to visions and prohibit 16- and 17-year-
same protections as adults but, in most
State in the standards prescribed, in olds from working in certain hazard-
cases, receive no additional protec-
the range of occupations covered, and ous occupations; some restrictions may
tion.19 The Occupational Safety and
in the age brackets to which they ap- apply to agriculture.16 In some cases,
Health Act, administered by the Occu-
ply, Federal law is generally more States have specifically adopted stan-
pational Safety and Health Administra-
stringent than the State laws with re- dards for agriculture that are more strin-
tion (OSHA), requires that State regu-
spect to prohibiting work in occupa- gent than those of the Federal govern-
lations be as protective as the Federal
tions involving physical hazards and ment. For example, Florida prohibits
rules. Some States have adopted rules
assessing penalties for violations. This youths under age of 18 from operating
that are more protective than the Fed-
is true for both agricultural and nona- or assisting in the operation of tractors
eral rules. Most Federal and State oc-
gricultural employment. Federal law over 20 PTO (power take-off) horse-
cupational safety and health rules do
also is the same or more restrictive power, earth-moving equipment, and
not apply to agricultural employ-
with respect to the minimum age for other related machinery. Oregon pre-
general employment. On the other cludes anyone under 18 years of age
State workers’ compensation pro-
hand, many State laws mandate stan- from operating power-driven farm
grams also affect the health and safety
dards that are absent from Federal law, equipment of any kind. A more detailed
of working youths. Many programs
such as maximum hours and night discussion and comparison of State and
provide, or have the potential to pro-
work restrictions for 16- and 17-year- Federal child labor provisions, for both
vide, incentives for employers to im-
olds, prohibitions on employment in agricultural and nonagricultural em-
prove working conditions for all em-
occupations or in places detrimental to ployment, can be found on the U.S.
ployees. State workers’ compensation
morals (hotel and liquor service), and Department of Labor’s Website at http:/
agencies also provide a range of ser-
mandatory work permits or age cer- /
vices to help employers identify and
tificates. grams/whd/state/state.htm.
correct real or potential workplace haz-
Unlike the FLSA, more than half Though not conceived as labor
of the States regulate the daily or standards legislation, State laws that
weekly number of hours that 16- and establish minimum ages and other cri-
17-year-olds may be employed, or re- teria for operating motor vehicles on
strict the evening hours during which public roads also affect youth employ- Current strategy for
16- and 17-year-olds may work, or ment and the types of jobs available to ensuring compliance
both. State hours and time-of-work teens. These rules apply equally to on- Protecting the health and safety of
regulations on the whole, however, the-job driving and to personal, non- young workers, while helping them
tend to be less restrictive for minors employment situations. Automobile enjoy positive work experiences, re-
under the age of 16 than are the Fed- crashes have remained a leading cause mains a high priority of the U.S. De-
eral regulations. Many States do not of teen occupational and nonoccupa- partment of Labor. Consistent with

her goal of assuring every U.S. work- themselves—about the child labor pro- been important partners in the Work
er—and especially young workers—a visions and the importance of compli- Safe This Summer and Fair Harvest/
safe, healthful, and fair workplace, ance. In June of 2000, the Wage and Safe Harvest campaigns since their in-
Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman Hour Division of the U.S. Department ceptions. In addition, the Department
launched the Department’s Safe Work/ of Labor will launch its fifth annual Work of Labor is working closely with NIOSH
Safe Kids initiative last June. Safe Safe This Summer education campaign, to develop more effective interventions
Work/Safe Kids is designed to focus timed to reach both young workers and that better protect young workers and
public attention on the issues of child employers at the end of the school year help prevent teen occupational
labor and both educate and mobilize when the number of teen workers injuries and deaths. The Department
all those who can positively affect swells. Concurrently, the Department’s also is partnering with State Depart-
youth employment. agricultural initiative, Fair Harvest/Safe ments of Labor, including them in the
In order to help teens have safe and Harvest will continue to provide hired strategic planning process, to pro-
constructive early work experiences, farmworkers with important information mote coordinated enforcement and
Safe Work/Safe Kids employs a com- about their rights in the workplace. educational outreach activities. En-
prehensive strategy of enhanced, tar- This bilingual campaign also includes hanced coordination and cooperation
geted enforcement; increased compli- a colorful children’s book designed to between Federal and State agencies
ance education and outreach; teach safety on the farm in an appeal- can only strengthen the effectiveness
construction of strong partnerships; ing and easily understood manner. of efforts to increase compliance.
and creation of heightened public The Department continues to make Further, the Wage and Hour Divi-
awareness. These four components, available over the Internet important sion also is seeking to create “cor-
employed simultaneously, greatly information about the child labor pro- porate compliance partnerships” with
magnify the positive compliance ef- visions. The Wage and Hour Division’s those employers that agree to take ex-
fects that would be obtained if any were Youth Home Page is designed to teach traordinary, proactive steps toward
employed independent of the others. elementary school children about child ensuring the safety and well-being of
Effective, credible, and targeted en- labor and workplace safety. Extensive their young workers. Important na-
forcement, which serves to detect, rem- compliance information, including all tional partnerships have already been
edy, penalize, and deter violations, is a the Federal child labor regulations, also forged with such enterprises as Kmart;
key component of the compliance strat- is available on the Internet. In Decem- H. J. Heinz; Toys “R” Us; Sears, Roe-
egy. Industries targeted for enforce- ber 1998, the Department’s elaws sys- buck and Company; Newman’s Own;
ment initiatives in 1999 included agri- tem—an interactive electronic informa- and Smith Food and Drug Centers, Inc.
culture, through the “Salad Bowl” tion source—was expanded to include By heightening public awareness of
initiative; retail trade, especially res- the child labor laws. Modules designed youth employment issues and the
taurants; garment manufacturing; and for employers, parents, teens, and other Department’s commitment to ensuring
health care. The use of the “hot goods” interested parties provide important that safe and positive work experi-
provisions of the FLSA,20 injunctions, information in a quick and user-friendly ences are available for teens, the Wage
and consent judgements are being manner. and Hour Division fosters an environ-
emphasized for cases in which child The Wage and Hour Division seeks ment that encourages compliance with
labor violations are found. Civil to create partnerships with all parties the child labor laws. Public awareness
money penalties—“fines” computed in that can contribute to increasing and also can stimulate interest and, it is
proportion to the severity of the viola- maintaining compliance with the child hoped, research in such areas as in-
tions—are assessed to affect the future labor provisions to help keep working jury prevention, the effects of teen em-
compliance behavior of employers. children safe and in school. The ployment on academic performance,
The child-labor civil money penalty Division’s partners include employers, and identification of hazardous occu-
system now provides for a fine of employer associations, child labor ad- pations.
$10,000 for each violation contribut- vocacy groups, community-based
ing to the death or serious injury of a groups, and other government bodies.
minor. 21 The FLSA also contains Some partnership agreements are the Child labor enforcement
criminal sanctions of up to 6 months result of enforcement efforts or litiga- trends
imprisonment after a second convic- tion, but most spring from the volun- Recorded child labor violations were
tion for violations of child labor regu- tary efforts of employers and other or- on a steep increase in the late 1980s.
lations. ganizations coming together with the In response to this trend, the Depart-
The second component of the com- common goal of protecting young ment of Labor and several States took
pliance strategy is to educate all those workers. aggressive action, and there appears
who affect teen employment—employ- The National Institute for Occupa- to have been an increase in child la-
ers, parents, teachers, other govern- tional Safety and Health (NIOSH) and bor compliance over the last decade.
ment agencies, and the working teens the National Consumers League have The U.S. Department of Labor believes

that its comprehensive compliance This trend in Federal enforcement Such trends are encouraging, but
strategy is making a difference. data is supported by independent re- we cannot become complacent. First
The Wage and Hour Division’s en- search. Douglas Kruse, in a study con- and foremost, child labor remains a
forcement experience suggests that ducted for the Associated Press, de- safety issue—and it is still the case
fewer young people who work are rived estimates suggesting that, despite that too many children are injured and
working in violation of the child la- a significant increase in the population killed on the job. NIOSH, using data
bor provisions. For example, despite of working age youths—the “baby from the National Electronic Injury Sur-
the expenditure of a comparable pro- boom echo”—the proportion of youths veillance System, estimates that be-
portion of enforcement resources on who are illegally employed has tween 210,000 and 315,000 adolescents
child labor compliance, the total num- dropped nearly 40 percent, from 1.3 are injured on the job annually.24
ber of investigations in which the Di- percent in the 1970s to about 0.8 per- As discussed in chapter 6, data
vision found child labor violations cent in the 1990s.22 from the BLS Survey of Occupational
decreased from a high of 5,889 in It appears that the Nation’s teens Injuries and Illnesses show an esti-
1990 to 1,273 in 1998. The number also are “working safer” than they did mated 11,248 cases of injuries result-
of investigations in agriculture that earlier in this decade. Data compiled ing in lost workdays to workers 17 and
found child labor violations likewise by the National Institute for Occupa- under in 1997. On average, according
fell from 138 in 1990 to 33 in 1998. tional Safety and Health indicate that to the Census of Fatal Occupational
The number of young workers whose the risk of injury to working teens, as Injuries, also discussed in chapter 6,
employment was in violation of the measured by cases treated in emer- 67 youths died on the job annually
Federal child labor provisions, which gency rooms, decreased more than 10 during the years 1992-97.25
reached nearly 40,000 in 1990, percent between 1992 and 1996.23 As Child labor is also an education is-
dropped to 5,500 in 1998. Even more noted in chapter 6 of this report, there sue. We must ensure that our youths,
indicative of increased compliance is was a 49-percent cumulative decrease this country’s most precious asset, find
the fact that the number of teens found in the number of injuries resulting in positive and safe work experiences
illegally employed per case dropped lost workdays to workers 17 years of that complement, rather than compete
from 6.8 in 1990 to 4.5 in 1998. age and younger from 1992 to 1997. with, the educational process.

This chapter was contributed by Art 8
New ILO Child Labour Convention Re- employed as actors or performers in motion
Kerschner, Jr., leader, Child Labor and Special ceives First Ratification, ILO/99/30 (Geneva, pictures or theatrical, radio, or television pro-
Employment Team, Employment Standards Ad- International Labor Organization, Septem- ductions; 3) children engaged in the delivery
ministration. ber 1999). of newspapers to the consumer; 4) home-
Wage and Hour and Public Contracts 9
A covered enterprise consists of the related workers engaged in the making of wreaths
Division, Child Labor Laws Historical De- activities performed through unified operation composed of natural holly, pine, cedar, or
velopment (Washington, U.S. Department of or common control by any person or persons other evergreens.
Labor, 1968), p. 2. for a common business purpose and 1) whose 11
Farmworkers who are employed by agri-
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report on annual gross volume of sales made or business cultural employers who did not, during any cal-
Conditions of Women and Child Wage-Earn- done is not less than $500,000 (exclusive of endar quarter during the preceding calendar year,
ers in the United States (61G, 2S, Senate Doc. excise taxes at the retail level that are sepa- use more than 500 man-days of agricultural la-
645, 1909). rately stated); or 2) that is engaged in the op- bor are exempt from the FLSA minimum wage
For a more detailed history of child labor eration of a hospital, an institution primarily requirements. This roughly equates to about
in America, see Wage and Hour and Public Con- engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, or the seven employees in any quarter.
tracts Division, Child Labor Laws. mentally ill who reside on the premises; a 12
A court injunction currently blocks the De-
Protecting Youth at Work (Washington, school for mentally or physically disabled or partment from issuing these waivers because em-
Institute of Medicine/National Research gifted children; a preschool, an elementary or ployers are unable to provide absolute proof that
Council, 1998), p. 27. secondary school, or an institution of higher the health or well-being of young workers would
Protecting Youth at Work, p. 25. education (whether operated for profit or not be at zero risk from exposure to pesticides or
E. Greenberger and G. Steinberg, When for profit); or 3) that is an activity of a public other chemicals.
Teenagers Work: The Psychological and So- agency. 13
Agricultural employment is exempted
cial Costs of Adolescent Employment (New 10
The following types of youth employment from or is not listed among the covered sectors
York, Basic Books, 1986). are exempt from the child labor provisions of in the child labor laws of Alabama, Delaware
Janice Windau, E. Sygnatur, and G. the FLSA: 1) children under 16 who are em- (nonhazardous employment), Georgia, Kansas,
Toscano, “Profile of Work Injuries Incurred ployed by their parents in occupations other than Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi,
by Young Workers,” Monthly Labor Review, mining, manufacturing, or those declared haz- Montana, Nebraska (covers only work in beet
June 1999, pp. 3-10. ardous by the Secretary of Labor; 2) children fields), North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Is-

land, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and ery for shipment in commerce of “hot See chapter 4, table 4.1 in this report.
Wyoming. goods” produced in an establishment in or NIOSH reported rates for work-related
New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Caro- about which oppressive child labor is being injuries treated in emergency departments
lina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wis- employed or was employed in the past 30 for 16- to 17-year-old males and females in
consin. days. 1996 to be 6.0 and 3.9 injuries per 100 full-
15 21
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, The Department of Labor has proposed, time equivalent workers, respectively. See
Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pub- D. Castillo, L. Davis, and D. Wegman,
Washington. lished in the Federal Register on December “Young Workers,” Occupational Medicine:
Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, 12, 1998, to increase the maximum child State of the Art Reviews, July-September
Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Or- labor civil money penalty to $11,000 (63 1999. NIOSH reported work-related inju-
egon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. FR71405). This proposal was made to meet ries treated in emergency departments for
D. Castillo, D. Landen, and L. Layne, the requirements of the Federal Civil Penal- 16- to 17-year-old males and females in
“Occupational Injury Deaths of 16- and 17-Year- ties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. A 1992 to be 7.0 and 4.4 injuries per 100 full-
Olds in the United States,” American Journal final rule has yet to be promulgated. time equivalent workers, respectively. See
of Public Health, April 1994. D. Kruse, Illegal Child Labor in the L. Layne, D. Castillo, N. Stout, and P. Cutlip,
In a press release dated January 20, 1999, United States (New Brunswick, NJ, School of “Adolescent Occupational Injuries Requir-
the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety re- Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers ing Hospital Emergency Department Treat-
ported that 24 States have enacted some form University and National Bureau of Economic ment: A Nationally Representative Sample,”
of graduated licensing since 1994. Research, November 1997). However, it American Journal of Public Health, vol.
Only one standard—that dealing with ex- should also be noted that, over the period 84, 1994, pp. 657–60.
posure to ionizing radiation—establishes a lower from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, the Castillo and others, “Young Workers.”
permissible exposure level for workers under 18 percentage of 15- to 17-years-olds who Michael H. Cimini, “Fatal Injuries and
years of age than for adults. worked declined from 30 to 25 in school Young Workers,” Compensation and Working
The FLSA bars the shipment or deliv- months and from 43 to 34 in summer months. Conditions, Summer 1999, pp. 27-29.