Violations Have Increased
At the Wage and Hour Division, safeguarding children at work has always been our top priority. Wage and Hour Division investigations found a significant increase in children being employed illegally and in 2023 we launched a National Strategic Enforcement Initiative on Child Labor to put additional emphasis on addressing this critical issue.
FY 2023 Child Labor Enforcement Data
In FY 2023, we concluded 955 investigations that found child labor violations, a 14% increase from the previous year. We found nearly 5,800 children employed in violation of the law, an 88% increase since 2019, and assessed more than $8 million in penalties, an 83% increase from the previous year.
Child Labor FY23 to FY22 Comparative
|Compliance Actions with Child Labor Violations
|Young Workers Employed in Violation
|Young Workers per Compliance Action
|Compliance Actions with Hazardous Occupation Violations
|Young Workers Employed in Violation of Hazardous Occupations Orders
|Child Labor Civil Money Penalties
For a 10-year history of Child Labor data, please see our charts at Child Labor | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
Recent Child Labor Cases
Several of our child labor cases in FY 2023 found severe violations and resulted in tragedy. These three investigations demonstrate the ongoing threat that illegal child labor poses to kids.
Meat Processing Machinery: We issued a $1.5 million penalty against Packers Sanitation Services for employing more than 100 children in hazardous occupations.
Sawmill Operations: Florence Hardwoods, a Wisconsin sawmill operator, illegally employed nine children to operate hazardous machinery, tragically resulting in one child's fatal work-related injury on July 1.
Meat Processing Machinery: Monogram Food Solutions paid over $140,000 in penalties after we found nine teens employed illegally to operate dangerous equipment.
Other Enforcement Efforts
We ensure compliance with federal child labor laws by:
- Initiating a national child labor strategic enforcement initiative and looking for child labor in every investigation the agency conducts.
- Collaborating with an interagency task force on federal child labor laws.
- Developing new digital resources.
- Prioritizing child labor concerns when handling complaints.
- Working with stakeholders and other third-party sources to receive complaints.
- Conducting more than 1,700 child labor outreach events through our local offices in FY 2023.
- Places and types of work that are off-limits for kids under 18
- Comprehensive toolkits for young workers, parents, educators and employers
- WATCH: Workers’ rights video series
- Field Assistance Bulletin 2023-3: Prohibitions against the shipment of “Hot Goods” under the Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Child labor fact sheets by topic
- Child labor news releases