DOL Investigators Patrolling NY for Compliance with Child Labor Laws

With summer upon us, the employment of minors is rising dramatically, particularly in the restaurant, retail, construction, and recreational industries, among others. In order to ensure that employment is in compliance with the law during the season, New York inspectors will be visiting employers unannounced.

"Department of Labor investigators will be patrolling this summer for compliance with the child labor laws," said State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith. "Enforcement of the child labor laws is a year-round priority, and the need for inspections is heightened during the summer months when minors are most likely to be employed."

The New York State child labor laws apply to the employment of all minors under 18 years of age. These laws prohibit particularly dangerous types of employment, such as working with certain kinds of machinery. Child labor laws also set work time limitations for children to prevent them from working excessive hours during the day, or working too late at night. There are also requirements regarding school attendance rules, employment certificates, and permits.

Businesses and municipalities that violate the laws are subject to civil penalties, which can be as high as $1,000 per violation for the first offense. During 2006, the NYS Department of Labor cited 252 businesses for child labor violations and collected $120,800 in civil penalties.

With limited exceptions, minors not yet 14 may not be employed at any time – not after school nor during vacation. When hiring a minor aged 14-17 for non-agricultural employment, an employer must obtain "working papers" (a current, valid employment certificate) from the minor before work is started. The reverse side of the employment certificate states the permitted working hours for the minor.

Limited exemptions to these requirements apply. For example, golf caddies and babysitters do not need employment certificates, but must be at least 14 years old. Children who are at least twelve years old may do limited work on farms, or outdoor work with their families, and children who are at least eleven years old may work outside of school hours as newspaper carriers.

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