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Employment law

child labor

The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). These provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and to prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health and well being.

In nonagricultural work, the child labor provisions apply to enterprises with employees engaging in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for interstate commerce. For most firms, an annual dollar volume of business test of not less than $500,000 applies.

Employees of firms that do not meet the $500,000 annual dollar volume test may be subject to the FLSA’s child labor provisions in any workweek in which they are individually engaged in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or an activity that is closely related and directly essential to the production of such goods.

The FLSA covers the following employers regardless of their dollar volume of business:

• hospitals;

• institutions primarily engaged in the care of the sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled who reside on the premises;

• schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled, or gifted;

• preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and

• federal, state, and local government agencies.

While 16 is the minimum age for most nonfarm work, minors aged 14 and 15 may work outside of school hours in certain occupations under certain conditions. Minors may, at any age:

• deliver newspapers;

• perform in radio, television, movies, or theatrical productions;

• work for their parents in their solely owned nonfarm businesses (except in mining, manufacturing, or in any other occupation declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor); or

• gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The child labor provisions of the Act include restrictions on hours of work and occupations for youths under age 16. These provisions also set forth 17 hazardous occupations orders for jobs that the Secretary of Labor has declared too dangerous for those under age 18 to perform.

The permissible jobs and hours of work, by age, in nonfarm work are as follows:

• Minors age 18 or older are not subject to restrictions on jobs or hours

• Minors age 16 and 17 may perform any job not declared hazardous by the Secretary, and are not subject to restrictions on hours

• Minors age 14 and 15 may work outside school hours in various nonmanufacturing, non-mining, nonhazardous jobs listed by the Secretary in regulations published at 29 CFR Part 570 under the following conditions:

o no more than three hours on a school day

o nor more than 18 hours in a school week

o no more than eight hours on a non-school day

o no more than 40 hours in a non-school week

o may not begin work before 7 a.m. or work after 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended until 9 p.m.

o permissible work for 14 and 15 year olds is limited to those jobs specifically listed in the Secretary’s regulations.

WHD’s regulations provide some exceptions to these limitations on hours worked for 14 and 15 year olds enrolled in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) or Work Study Program (WSP).

By regulation, employers must keep records of the dates of birth of employees under age 19, their daily starting and quitting times, their daily and weekly hours of work, and their occupations. The FLSA provides that an employer that has on file an officially-issued employment or age certificate showing that the minor is the minimum age required by the FLSA is not liable for violating the child labor provisions if that documentation proves to be incorrect. Age or employment certificates issued under most state laws are generally acceptable for this purpose. See 29 CFR 570.5.

States also have child labor laws that vary from state from state and are usually located in a state’s statutes.

In Texas, the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to ensure minors are not employed under conditions that are harmful to their health and well-being or that interfere with their education. The FLSA applies to businesses with an annual dollar volume of at least $500,000, as well as to hospitals, schools, and government agencies regardless of business volume. Minors aged 14 and 15 are allowed to work outside school hours under specific conditions, such as a limit of three hours on a school day and 18 hours in a school week. They cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except during summer when they can work until 9 p.m. Minors aged 16 and 17 may work without hour restrictions in non-hazardous jobs. Employers must keep records of minors' birth dates and work schedules. Texas also has its own child labor laws, which may have additional requirements or restrictions, and employers must comply with both federal and state regulations.

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