Child Labor Violations Are On The Rise Throughout The U.S. - Including New Jersey
- November 15, 2022
The horrendous exploitation of child labor dates back to the Industrial Revolution and was one of the motivations behind the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Recently, there has been a resurgence in child labor violations by business and industry. In 2022, children were found working dangerous jobs at meat processing plants in Minnesota and Nebraska, hired illegally for overnight shifts, performing tasks that left a 13-year-old with caustic chemical burns. The Labor Department said that these employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by employing minors, who worked at plants owned by meatpacking giant JBS and the poultry processor Turkey Valley Farms.
Worse yet, these businesses further violated the law by “intimidating minor workers to stop them from cooperating with Labor Department investigators."
In November 2022 the Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has 85 locations throughout New Jersey, was ordered to pay the state an unprecedented $7.7 Million to settle “widespread and persistent violations” of New Jersey’s Child Labor Laws – including minors working an excessive number of hours.
Should you allow or even encourage your child to “get a job”? That’s a question almost all parents ask themselves at one time or another.
Many parents want their children to learn for themselves, at an early age, “the value of a dollar” by working for wages, to some extent, during their childhood. On the other hand, not all parents want their children to be exploited for profit by others in the labor market.
If you are a parent who allows their child to participate in the workforce, you need to pay attention to your child’s employment and monitor its compliance with legal requirements.
Here are just some of the things that the law requires:
- Minors who are gainfully employed must have an employment certificate a.k.a. “working papers” which are secured by the issuing officer of the school district where the minor resides. Working papers are valid only for a period of time and under the conditions specifically stated on the working papers.
- Minors under 18 years of age must receive a 30-minute meal break after 5 consecutive hours of work.
- Minors under 16 years of age may not be employed during the hours they are required to attend school.
- With regard to general employment, minors 14 and 15 years of age may work no more than 3 hours per day and 18 hours per week when school is in session. During school vacations, they may work up to 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, and 6 days per week. However, they may not work prior to 7:00 AM or after 7:00 PM.
- Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work no more than 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, 6 days per week, and may not work prior to 6:00 AM or after 11:00 PM when school is in session.
- No minor under 16 years of age is permitted to work with or around power-driven machinery. This includes conveyor belts, power lawnmowers, or power tools.
- A cash register conveyor belt in the supermarket is permitted for minors who are at least 15 years of age and working as either a cashier or a bagger.
- No minor under 18 years of age is permitted to work with or around the manufacture or packaging of paints, colors, white lead or red lead, poisonous acids or dies, injurious quantities of toxic or noxious dust guesses vapors, or fumes. Minors are not permitted to engage in work that involves exposure to hazardous chemicals or carcinogens.
- No minor under the age of 18 years of age is permitted to work with or around the manufacture transportation or use of explosives or other highly flammable substances. This however does not include the filling of gasoline tanks at a gas station.
- No minor under 18 years of age is permitted to perform construction work meaning the erection, alteration, repair, renovation, demolition or removal of any building or structure, the excavation, filling, and grading of sites, or paving roads and highways within 30 feet of these operations. Construction work does not include repairing or painting fences buildings and structures not exceeding 12 feet high.
- No minor under 18 years of age is permitted to work in any establishment where alcoholic liquors are distilled, rectified, compounded, brood, manufactured, bottled, or sold for consumption on premises.
- No minor under 18 years of age is permitted to work in or around any theatrical production which is dangerous to the life, limb, health, or morals of the minor or in exhibition of any physically deformed or mentally deficient minor.