Child Labor Regulations Updated by the DOL

Last Updated: June 7, 2010


The federal Department of Labor (DOL) published extensive revisions to child labor regulations on May 20, 2010. These new regulations, which go into effect on July 19, 2010, are designed to protect working children from workplace hazards while recognizing the value of safe work for children and their families. Some of these revisions are listed below.

Workers under 18 are prohibited from:

  • working at poultry-slaughtering and packaging plants;
  • riding on a forklift as a passenger;
  • working in forest-fire fighting, forestry services, and timber-tract management;
  • operating certain power-driven hoists and work-assist vehicles;
  • operating balers and compacters designed or used for non-paper productions; and
  • operating power-driven chain saws, wood chippers, reciprocating saws, and abrasive cutting discs.

In regards to 14- and 15-year-olds, these regulations:

  • allow employment in advertising, banking, and information technology;
  • clarify the work hours and time-of-day limitations, and define school hours as applied to non-agricultural employment;
  • prohibit youth-peddling activities or non-charitable door-to-door sales; and
  • establish a new work-study program for those who plan to attend college.

What should employers do?

We understand that the DOL intends to increase its audit efforts in this area. Due to the significant risk to minors that the DOL is attempting to avoid as well as the potential fines, penalties, and negative PR for employers, we urge our clients to examine their child labor policies and make any amendments as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that in addition to the above new federal guidelines, you also need to comply with any child labor restrictions imposed by your state which may include obtaining work permits prior to employing minors. For more information, see the California DLSE’s publication California Child Labor Laws and the Hawaii DLIR’s State of Hawaii Child Labor Law and Related Administrative Rules.

For further information on the new federal regulations, please see the Wage and Hour Division’s article entitled, “ Updating Child Labor Regulations for the 21st Century or call 1.866.4USWAGE (1.866.487.9243).

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