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Child Labor Laws

The first thing one should know about child labor laws is that these are both federal and state. If the two overlap, the law which offers more protection to the minor will prevail. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that curtails employment and abuse of child workers. State laws on the issue may differ. According to federal law there is a limit on the number of hours those under the age of 16 can work. The Act also lists hazardous occupations which are too dangerous for youngsters to perform.

As per the FLSA, 14 is the minimum age for employment. Minors are also not permitted to work in areas declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. In agriculture the jobs and hours of work differ. For example, minors of any age can work on their parents’ farm at any time in any occupation. But state laws on this can be different. Minors engaged in newspaper delivery do not come under the child labor provisions of the FLSA or the wage and hours provision. This is not applicable to employees engaged in hauling newspapers to various locations. The same applies for actors or performers. But state rules in this regard can vary from state to state.

The hours of work for 14 and 15 year olds is three on a school day, 18 in a school week, 8 on a non-school day, 40 in a non school week and between 7 am and 7 pm except from June 1 through Labor Day. Though the federal law does not require work permits or other proof of age for employment of minors. But again, many state laws stipulate differently. The Department of Labor can issue age certificates if the state does not. It is essential for parents and guardians to be aware of these legal aspects before their young wards seek employment.

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