Child Labor is prevalent in many countries of the world and more so in the developing ones. Although it is illegal and strictly prohibited in almost all parts of the world, the practice of employing children still continues either openly or in secret. Most of us will agree to having encountered it in some form or the other, at some point of time in life.
Laws in the U.S.
The U.S. government categorizes children below the legal age working in inhuman conditions, performing immoral work, associated with hazardous and filthy workplaces with no or meager payment, as victims of child labor. The Federal and State Legislation monitor the type of work that children can perform having reached a certain age. The law controlling child labor is the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938.
It gives guidelines as to what is acceptable where children are concerned. The requirements need to be met by employers.
• Work hours are specified
• Minimum wages to be paid by the employers
• Categories of work as to where children cannot be employed, like liquor shops, lottery sales
• Work permit needs to be submitted so that there is no breach of the said law
Each state in U.S. has different child labor norms that vary extensively, but the Federal law is the defining authority.
Underage children, as per the Federal Law are prohibited from being employed in the following areas of work:
• Operating tractors
• Operating or assisting in operating heavy machinery like grinders etc
• Working on a farm where animals are being kept for breeding
• Unloading, loading, felling timber with a trunk diameter of more than 6 inches
• Working on heights, 20 feet or above
• Driving transport vehicles like bus, trucks, tractors
• Working in enclosures where sufficient oxygen is unavailable, or are toxic areas, or in a manure pit
• Using toxic agricultural chemicals
• Using blasting agents like dynamite, etc.
• Handling anhydrous ammonia
• Overtime pay is to be accounted for separately and should not be less than one and a half times their regular pay.
• There are age limits for different occupations.
• The normal age for employment in agriculture is 14 years whereas in every other industry the minimum age is 16 years.
• Child actors and performers, children delivering newspapers, making evergreen wreaths at home are not covered under the Federal Law.
• A child of 14 or 15 may work in an industry except mining if the health and schooling are not affected. The decision is made by the Secretary of Labor.
• A child of 12 or 13 may work if the parent or guardian is engaged in the same employment or permits the employment of the child.
Even in today’s age and time, the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to all employers engaged in commercial activities. It is the tool through which the U.S. government seeks to enforce the law. Employers across U.S. would do well to comply with the standards set while making their staffing decisions.
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