The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it intends to make big changes to child labor provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The DOL has released a proposal that would strengthen existing youth employment regulations to protect against workplace hazards and expand certain youth workplace opportunities that have been judged safe and permissible. According to the agency, the proposal “contains the most ambitious and far-reaching revisions to the child labor regulations in the last 30 years.”
With respect to workplace hazards, the DOL’s proposal would expand the list of jobs considered to be “particularly hazardous”—and thus, off limits—for 16- and 17-year-olds (and younger workers, too). Activities that would be added to that list include working at poultry slaughtering plants, riding as passengers on forklifts, fighting forest fires, and loading and operating non-paper products balers and compacters.
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The DOL also seeks to expand employment opportunities for 14- and 15-year-olds in industries like advertising, banking, and information technology. (Under the current regulations, says the DOL, 14- and 15-year-olds are permitted to work only in retail, food service, or gasoline service establishments.) The proposal would also for the first time specifically permit these young teens to perform work of a mental or artistically creative nature, such as computer programming, software development, tutoring, serving as a peer counselor or teacher’s assistant, singing, playing a musical instrument, and drawing.
U.S. Department of Labor Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking