Before employing minors, it is essential to know and obey child labor laws, particularly in regards to prohibited work. There are federal laws governing the employment of minors, but employers need to know the governing state law because the Department of Labor states that, “Where state law differs from federal law on child labor, the law with the more rigorous standard applies.”
Laws cover such matters as minimum age, prohibited work by age, whether work permits are needed, and restrictions on the hours of work allowed.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the federal child labor laws. Generally speaking, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for employment restricts the hours youth under the age of 16 may work, and prohibits youth under the age of 18 from being employed in hazardous occupations.
Keep in mind that this may be their first job so young workers require extra guidance and regular communication. Stress safety, particularly among first-line supervisors who have the greatest opportunity to influence teens and their work habits. They are important role models.
Make sure that young workers are appropriately trained and supervised to prevent injuries and hazardous exposures. Work with supervisors and experienced workers to develop a safety program and to help identify and solve problems. Train young workers to recognize hazards and to use safe work practices. This is especially important since teens often have little work experience and new workers are at are a higher risk of injury.
There are steep penalties enforced for violations. According to the NYS Department of Labor there are civil penalties up to $1,000 for the first violation, $2,000, for the second, and $3,000 for the third and subsequent violations. The largest penalty for injury or death is triple the maximum penalty allowed under the law for such a violation. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act authorizes a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation.
Here are some compliance resources for employers.
NYS Department of Labor: http://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/minors.shtm
US Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor and www.youthrules.dol.gov
For more information on keeping all your workers safe, contact The Flanders Group at 800-462-6435.