The Effects of Child Labor Laws

Nicole Johnson

Child Labor can be defined as any work that causes a minor to be involved in dangerous working conditions and hinders their capability to attend school.

What is the purpose of child labor laws and why is it critical for employers to follow them?

The purpose of child labor laws is to prevent minors under 18 years old from being forced to work in dangerous working conditions that are detrimental to their health, well-being, and safety. These laws state that children under 14 years old cannot be employed in any non-agricultural jobs, instead, they are permitted to be employed as babysitters or deliver newspapers. With the exception of a family business, children under 14 years old may work if the job is not hazardous.

For 14 and 15-year-olds, by law, they are permitted to be employed but due to certain circumstances, they are limited to the number of days and hours they can work. According to Oregon’s Child Labor Laws, 14 and 15-year-olds can work 3 hours per day, 8 hours on non-school days and 18 hours per week maximum only between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm while school is in session. When school is not in session, they can work 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week maximum from June 1 – Labor Day between the hours of 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. The type of jobs they are limited to are retail jobs, parking attendant, teaching and tutoring, grocery clerk, delivery jobs and more.

As for 16 and 17-year-olds, Oregon’s Child Labor Laws permits them to work any occupation along with working a total of 44 hours per week maximum. The occupations they are prohibited from working are operating power-driven hand drills, excavation, manufacturing and motor vehicle driving. By the time a youth turns 18 years old, they are considered as an adult and no longer controlled under Oregon’s child labor laws. They are legally free to work any occupation and hours.

To hire minors, employers are responsible for verifying their age and must apply every year for an annual employment certificate. According to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the employment certificate must include the estimated number of employers to be employed, indicate you plan on employing 14-17-year-olds, list all the duties where work should be performed by minors and list every power-driven machinery and equipment. BOLI’s Child Labor Unit will review the application and approve the employment certificate. The certificate must be posted in an area that is visible for employees. A yearly renewal notice will be sent to employers that have certificates on file.

With Oregon’s child labor law, there other important laws to consider such minimum wage, meals, breaks and adequate work. For minimum wage, all minors must be paid the applicable minimum wage. All meal periods must be 30 minutes and have to be provided to non-exempt minor employees who work six or more hours. Breaks have to be at least 15 minutes every four hours. Adequate work must be done in order to earn at least one-half of the amount earned during the minor’s scheduled work hours.

It is very important to obey child labor laws, it can prevent legal issues. In some cases, employers can be fined and risk going to jail for violating the rules.

For more information on Oregon’s Child Labor Laws, please visit https://www.oregon.gov/boli/WHD/CLU/docs/childlaborlawsummary.pdf

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