Restrictions Sought On Youth Jobs

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In an effort to increase safety, the federal government is considering new proposals to limit the jobs youth can hold and the number of hours they can work.

The Department of Labor is seeking comments on a proposal to ban teens from particularly hazardous activities, such as working at poultry slaughtering plants, riding as passengers on forklifts, fighting forest fires, and loading and operating non-paper product balers and compacters. The proposal would also prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from employment in youth peddling activities, also referred to as door-to-door sales.

Comments must be received by July 16. Information is at http://www.dol.gof/esa.whd.comments.htm.

Meanwhile, child labor reformers held a briefing on Capitol Hill last month to promote the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act), which was reintroduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.). The act proposes to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by bringing the age and work hour standards in agriculture up to the FLSA standards for other forms of child labor.

For example, federal law allows children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in agriculture, while youth in other jobs must be at least 14 and are limited in how many hours they can work outside of school. The CARE Act would preserve the family farm exemption for children working on their parents’ farms.

The CARE Act is supported by the Child Labor Coalition. It has been introduced several times before without passing; the last effort was in 2005. Coalition Coordinator Darlene Adkins said some unfunded mandates that were in previous versions of the bill have been removed, so “it may be a little more palatable. Contact: Child Labor Coalition at