Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor anticipates new blueberry season with enforcement initiative in Michigan
2009 enforcement efforts disclosed child labor, other federal wage violations
DETROIT -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is implementing an enforcement initiative focused on the Michigan blueberry harvest to ensure that growers and their farm labor contractors are in compliance with labor standards during the 2010 season.
“We will be conducting investigations on a broad scale this year, including weekends and after regular working hours,” said James Smith, director of the agency’s Michigan District Office in Detroit. “Growers need to ensure that their field managers and farm labor contractors are aware of the child labor standards and take steps to make certain these standards are not violated.”
The Department of Labor has stepped up enforcement efforts on behalf of all farm workers — including the youngest among them – by adding more than 250 new Wage and Hour Division field investigators in the last year.
In 2009, the Wage and Hour Division assessed $36,134 in civil money penalties against eight growers in five Michigan counties for migrant housing and child labor law violations following investigations of 35 agricultural employers throughout the state.
The Wage and Hour Division enforces worker protection laws that include the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s field sanitation and temporary labor camp provisions, and protections for guest workers with H-2A visas provided under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
Individuals under the age of 12 may be employed in agricultural jobs with parental consent, but only on very small farms that are not subject to the federal minimum wage requirements. Twelve- and 13-year-olds may be employed in agricultural settings if they are working on the same farm as a parent or with a parent’s consent. Generally, no farm worker under the age of 16 may be employed during school hours or perform hazardous work. Employers must maintain records of hours worked and pay, and dates of birth for all individuals under age 19. Most farm workers, even the youngest, must receive at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for every hour worked.
A fact sheet available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/childlabor102.pdf provides information about employment of minors to perform agricultural work.
For more information about the FLSA, child labor rules and the MSPA, and the H-2A program, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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