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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.




For more information call: 202-219-8743.

The U.S. Department of Labor is conducting a national drive to prevent child labor abuse during the summer months when more than three million youth get jobs.

The department's initiative will focus particularly on construction and agriculture, which have a higher than average number of injuries and fatalities to minors, often while the youths are working in violation of child labor laws.

"While we want to encourage American youths to gain valuable educational and work experience, we must also protect them from harm," said Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich. "With this education and outreach initiative, we hope to make parents, young people and employers aware of the current laws and promote legal, safe and healthy child labor."

The nationwide education and outreach program will include mailings to youth employment coordinators, chambers of commerce, industry associations in agriculture and construction such as farm bureaus and builder associations, school boards and school superintendents.

In addition, the department's regional Wage and Hour Division staff will speak to civic groups, to parent-teacher associations, at school career days and employer groups.

The department will also concentrate on enforcing child labor laws in agriculture and construction.

"We take very seriously our responsibility to enforce the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards Bernard Anderson. "Children are our most precious resource, and we will do our utmost to see they are protected in the workplace."

Labor Department investigators in fiscal year 1994 found 8,444 minors employed in violation of the child labor provisions of the FLSA. The department assessed $6.5 million in civil money penalties for violations involving 6,824 of those minors in 1,381 establishments.

Higher civil penalties were announced last year for violations that resulted in serious injuries and deaths to young workers. The penalties were increased from a maximum fine of $10,000 for each teen seriously injured or killed to $10,000 for each violation leading to a serious injury or death.

More than 2,500 minors aged 14 to 17 working in agricultural industries suffered occupational injuries in 1992 that were serious enough to warrant emergency room treatment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimated. NIOSH also reported that during the 1980s, 110 16- and 17-year-olds were killed while working in agriculture. There were more occupational adolescent deaths in agriculture than any other occupation.

In the construction industry, the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that the greatest percentage of accidents occur during the first months on the job, prime time for summer jobs, which last only a few months. Falls from elevations, the major cause of construction fatalities, ranked third as a cause of injuries overall.

Child labor provisions, implemented to protect the safety of minors in the workplace and to ensure that working does not interfere with minors' education, are a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The FLSA, which covers more than 113 million workers, also requires that most workers be paid the minimum wage, currently $4.25 an hour, generally requires overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in any workweek, and requires employers to keep accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Labor Department.

For further information on child labor provisions, contact the local office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in the government pages of the phone book under U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
June 14, 1995
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number