Child Labor Law

Child labor law is the body of law that governs the employment of minors in the United States and the law is governed by the Department of Labor. Child labor laws affect people that work and are under the age of 18. Child labor laws help to protect the rights of minors working in the job force. The laws protect minors from working too many hours, working incredibly dangerous jobs, working too many hours during a school week, working too many hours on a school night, working for no pay and working for too little pay. Child labor was pretty much banned in the United States when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. The Great Depression also helped in ridding the country of child labor when adults were in such dire need to work that they would work for the same wage that a child would get paid for the same job. Child labor laws in the United States do not permit workers under the age of 18 to work the following jobs:

  • Manufacturing or storing explosives.
  • Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle.
  • Coal mining.
  • Logging and sawmilling.
  • Operating power-driven wood-working machines.
  • Exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations.
  • Operating power-driven hoisting equipment.
  • Operating power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines. Mining, other than coal mining.
  • Operating power-driven meat-processing machines, and slaughtering, meat packing or processing, and rendering.
  • Operating power-driven bakery machines.
  • Operating power-driven paper-products machines, scrap paper balers, and paper box compactors (except that 16- and 17-year-olds can load – but not operate or unload – scrap paper balers and paper box compactors that meet certain safety requirements).
  • Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products.
  • Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears.
  • Wrecking, demolition, and ship breaking operations.
  • Working in roofing operations (including any work on or in close proximity to roofs, such as installing or repairing gutters and cable and satellite dishes on roofs).
  • Working in certain excavation operations.

Children working in the job force today have a lot of laws that need to be followed by their employer and their state regarding working conditions. There are some exclusions to labor laws where minors can work if they get approval from the Secretary of Labor. Those four exclusions are:

  • A child of age 14 or 15 may work in an occupation (except in mining or manufacturing) only if the Secretary of Labor determines that such work would not interfere with the child's schooling or health and well-being. Using this authority, the Secretary has issued regulations permitting children of ages 14 and 15 to work in limited, specified jobs in retail food service, and gasoline service establishments.
  • Child actors and performers are not subject to the FLSA's child labor protections.
  • Children engaged in the delivery of newspapers to the consumer are not subject to the FLSA's child labor protections.
  • Children working at home in making evergreen wreathes are not subject to the FLSA's child labor protections.

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