Employers should be alerted to some recent FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) changes governing the employment of anyone under 18 years old. In May 2010, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released revised regulations governing the use of child labor in the United States. These regulations are the most significant revisions of the law in 30 years. Effective July 19, 2010, new regulations apply that delineate prohibited occupations for youth under age 18, and regulations pertaining to employment of youth ages 14-15.
Summary of Current Law Provisions
FLSA child-labor regulations strictly enforce the employment terms of minors. In general, employment of minors who are 16 or older is allowed in most industries work not falling within one of (Department of Labor) DOL’s 17 “Hazardous Occupations” and there are few FLSA limitations upon their times or hours of work.
Strict limitations already exist on allowed occupations and hours of work for minors under the age of 16. Youths aged 14 and 15 may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. (with the exception being from June 1 through Labor Day when they may work until 9 p.m.). Further, these same minors may not work more than 3 hours on a school day; 18 in a school week; 8 hours on a non-school day; or 40 hours in a non-school week.
For minors under the age of 14, there are a few exceptions to these limitations, such as delivering newspapers or babysitting.
Additionally, child-labor laws must be followed even if the minor is employed as a “favor” to his or her parent and even if the parent is a supervisor and will oversee the work performed by the minor.
Highlights of Revised FLSA Regulations
The DOL undertook this review of regulations after recommendations were received by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The main focus of these revised rules were for non-agricultural occupations. According to the formal DOL statement, "The new regulations give employers clear notice that there are certain jobs children are simply not allowed to perform. They also expand opportunities for young workers to gain safe, positive work experience in fields such as advertising, teaching, banking and information technology, as well as through school-supervised work-study programs."
Among other provisions of the revised FLSA regulations are expanded rules on the list of prohibited equipment, engagement in dangerous activities and any peddling or street sales (other than for charitable causes). For example, the use of weed-trimmers, most power tools, and restaurant equipment that operates at temperatures above 140 degrees, are now strictly prohibited to youth under the law.
The new regulations do expand work by minors as lifeguards at pools and amusement parks (if certified), and intellectual or artistically creative work like tutoring, computer programming, and teaching.
Traditional working hour restrictions still apply based on the schedule of the local public school district, regardless if the youth attends a private school or is home schooled. Additionally, the 3-hour restriction on school days includes Fridays.
The revisions also newly define a “workweek” for 14- and 15- year olds as a “fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours – seven consecutive 24-hour periods.”
Employers hiring minors should comply with these new FLSA child-labor regulations. If a minor were to be injured, for example, the workers compensation review would likely bring the light of scrutiny on compliance with these regulations. Employment of youth is an excellent resource for select positions and can provide a win-win solution for employers seeking part-time staffing and youths seeking work experience and skill development.