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Child Labor Law - Fair Labor Standards Act

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A 13 year old boy has just seen the advertisement for a new video game that he would like to add to his growing collection. With all his excitement he asks his parents to purchase the video game for him only to find his request denied. His parents response was that if he wanted the video game he would have to find a way to raise money so that he could purchase the game with his money. After many days of contemplating the perfect job he decided that he would contact the local newspaper agency and apply to be a newspaper delivery boy.

There are industrialized nations where child labor is outlawed or at the very least severly restricted and tightly regulated. However, in developing countries child labor remains a way of life, which is substantial among the poor. In a time when child labor was cheap and families needed additional earnings to meet the families needs regulation had to be created to protect the children.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 was enacted by the Senate and House of Representative of the United States of America in Congress. It establishes the standards for private and public employment in regards to the basic minimum wage and overtime pay (Mallor, 2013, p. 1357). Within the Fair Labor Standards Act there are child labor requirements. The child labor requirements establish the minimum age of 16 for nonagricultural jobs. The rules were designed to prevent young people from dropping out of school sooner than expected and to protect them from the dangerous jobs where the pay may seem enticing. The enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act is handled by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration.


There are two classifications of jobs, agricultural and nonagricultural. Steingold (2000) states, "The Fair Labor Standards Act defines agricultural to include, cultivating and tilling the soil, dairying, producing, cultivating, growing and harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodities, raising livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals or poultry, or any practices performed by a farmer on a farm as part of farming-for example, forestry, lumbering and preparing items for market" (p. 38). Those children whose parents are owners of mining industries, manufacturing plants or any hazardous job have the age restriction of eighteen.

Nonagricultural jobs are those that don't pertain to working with the land or farm. Based on the information above nonagricultural jobs would be all other jobs. The youth that deliver newspapers; performer on television, radio, theater, or movie; work in a business owned by their parents; babysit or do minor chores within their private home are exempt from child labor restrictions of the FLSA.


There are restrictions placed on the hours that youth can work and the type of work that can be performed in the agricultural category. Youth 16 years or older can be hired for any work, whether it is hazardous or not and for unlimited hours. Youth 14 to 15 years old can be hired for nonhazardous agricultural work outside of school hours. Youth 12 to 13 years old can be hired for nonhazardous agricultural work that is outside of school hours, if their parents also work on the farm or if there is written consent from the parents (Steingold, 2000, p. 38). Written consent from the parents is also needed for youth that are under 12 years old for nonhazardous agricultural work if the farm isn't covered by the minimum wage requirement. For those youth whose parents own a farm they can be hired by their parents for any type of job, without regard to their age.

There are some examples of jobs that are considered hazardous for youth 15 years or younger. For example, operating a tractor with more than 20 horsepower is dangerous. Another, doing work in a pen or stall that occupies a bull, a stud horse that is used for breeding purposes or a sow with pigs that are being nursed. Furthermore, tasks that require the use of a ladder or scaffold that would extend to a height of more than 20 feet.

The restrictions for nonagricultural jobs in regards to hours and type of job. Youth 16 to 17 years old may be hired for nonhazardous jobs and for unlimited hours. Youth 14 to 15 years can work outside of school hours, if the jobs are those that don't deal with manufacturing, mining or are nonhazardous. The hours that they can work are no more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a nonschool day or 40 hours on a nonschool week. The work day can't begin before 7 a.m. or end after 7 p.m.. The evening hours are extended by two hours from June 1 through Labor Day, which is around the summer break.

Colorado Youth Employment Act

The Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act of 1971 is a state law that was created to regulate the employment of youth within the state of Colorado. The state youth law has similarities with the Federal Law. The major differences between the two laws are the minimum age and permitted work hours.

In the state of Colorado the minimum age a youth that can have a job is 9 years old. Some of the jobs that are permitted are shoeshining, caddying on golf courses, and delivery of advertising. Whereas the FLSA has the minimum age without the need of parental consent as 14 years old.



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