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Commonly Asked Legal Questions about Child Labor

Meghan Jones

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Child labor laws may be different in different states of US. Apart from the rights of the adult employees, minors who work may also have rights and they may be difficult to understand at times. Some frequently asked questions about child labor and its laws are given below.

Q. Define child labor and is it an offence in the US?
Work done by minors below the age of 18 years may be defined as child labor. This term is associated with forced labor of young children. In USA, child labor may not be considered as an offence. However, age related restrictions are placed under the federal and state law on the type of jobs that minors can take, number of working hours and the different kinds of equipment and machinery that may be operated by them.
Q. If an 8 year old child is being home schooled in New York, can that child greet the people at a fair and help the family food business?
As long as the child is not formally employed, it may not be against the law if he/she helps out informally, especially if it is for an educational purpose.

Q. In the state of Pennsylvania, can a Church or any other non-profit organization hire children of 12 to 15 years to help adults with child care? Will the organization be punished for violating the law?
Child labor laws may exempt babysitting only for private homes. It may not be exempted for any kind of organization, profit or non profit. If a minor has to be employed, he/ she must have a work permit. Child labor violation may be a punishable offence with a fine of $1500 and a maximum of 10 days in jail. Minors may volunteer with educational programs or any other program of a similar kind. They may also work as volunteers in programs conducted by the Church and may not be considered as employees.

Q. In Utah, if a 15 year old boy worked for Boy Scouts of America during summer at a Boy Scout camp, should the Boy Scout pay him a basic minimum wage of $4.25 per hour?
According to the Utah law, minors below 18 years of age must be paid a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for first 90 day period. However, as per Utah law 30-4-104, non- profit camping, educational organizations and charitable organizations who are registered under title 13 Chapter 22 of Charitable Solicitation Act, are exempt from paying the minimum wage as prescribed by minimum hourly wage lawsThe Boy Scouts of America may come under this category and may not have to pay the minimum wage to the minors.

Q. What would be the rights of a 17 year old boy in New Jersey, who works 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week without taking a break and is made to stay late to close the shop without an over time?
According to the child labor law of New Jersey, it may be compulsory for a minor to have an employment certificate. The employer may be fined for employing a minor if he/she does not have the certificate. As per the law, all minors may be allowed a break of 30 minutes after 5 continuous hours of work. A wage claim may be filed against the employer, with the state department of labor if the child is doing overtime with extra wages or breaks.

Q. Can a 15 year old child work past 7.00 pm during the school year in Ohio, if he/she has a written permission from the parents and the school officials?
Children below the age of 14 and 15 may not be allowed to work before 7 am and after 7pm when school is in session, irrespective of the parent’s or school official’s permission. One may be allowed to work for a maximum of 3 hours on a school day and 18 hours in a school week. Working during school hours may be permitted only if it is a part of a vocational training program. Minors below the age of 15 may not be employed before 7am and after 9pm when the school is not in session. They may not be allowed to work for more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week at this time.

It is important to remember that child labor laws may differ from state to state in the US. Sometimes, the employers, the minor’s parents or the minor’s themselves may not be clear of the child labor laws of their states. An employment lawyer may be of help if you need to know more about child labor laws.


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