- Seasonal work should never come at the expense of young employees’ education or safety, a U.S. Department of Labor official warned employers in a May 17 statement.
- Specifically, employers that hire “youth-aged” workers must comply with federal child labor laws to ensure the experience is safe and beneficial for those workers, Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman cautioned.
- Looman pointed to several recent WHD enforcement actions to drive home the point, including an investigation that resulted in a grocery store operator paying penalties and damages after it allegedly allowed minor employees to operate dangerous machinery.
DOL’s Fair Labor Standards Act regulations prohibit employers from allowing young workers to perform certain tasks and work certain hours. The mandates vary by industry, as outlined on DOL’s website, and states have their own requirements, too.
As Looman noted, WHD has been active in this enforcement area lately. It moved to add investigators to the team earlier this year, and has publicized recent investigations that uncovered alleged child labor violations. For example, it said in March that seven Little Caesars franchises in Tennessee violated child labor regulations by allowing teens to remove food from ovens and scheduling them to work more than 18 hours in a school week and more than 40 hours in a week when school was not in session. The agency assessed the employer more than $160,000 in civil penalties.
To avoid running afoul of the FLSA and its regulations in general, a former WHD administrator recently told HR Dive that employers should educate managers in applicable wage and hour requirements. This must go beyond handbook policies, said Paul DeCamp, now a member of the firm at Epstein Becker Green; instead, HR should provide interactive training and hold managers accountable if rules aren’t followed.