Child-labor law

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002

State and federal laws overseeing child labor are designed to make sure children are safe and not being overworked. Jobs that could be dangerous, such as operating heavy equipment or using sharp tools, are prohibited. Children under 14 may work only as newspaper carriers, entertainers, baby sitters, and other odd jobs in private homes. The restrictions loosen as they grow up.

"Every now and then we'll find kids doing things they're not supposed to do," said Randy Carr, chief of labor standards at the Department of Labor. "A lot of it has to do with having kids on premises where they're licensed to sell alcohol."

A state work permit is required for each teen-age employee, allowing the state Department of Labor to review the tasks teens will be doing and make sure they are allowable. Last year 162 work permits were denied statewide. Five permits were revoked, Carr said.

"In most instances it's because the parental approval has been withdrawn," Carr said. "Employment of a minor does require the approval of a parent or legal guardian."

Young teens also are limited in the number of hours they are allowed to work each day or week. No minor may work more than six days in any work week, and kids 15 or under can't work more than 23 hours a week during school. The state sometimes gives waivers for kids working in fish processing or other industries that require longer hours, Carr said.

But for most businesses, the teen restrictions are easy to work with, said Sue Luckey, who hires teens to bag groceries at Super Bear Supermarket.

"Actually, it doesn't really make a whole lot of difference," Luckey said. "You just have to be able to work with it and have enough people, like my courtesy's (clerks) can't work more than three hours a night if they're under 16, so we have three-hour shifts for them."

The child-labor laws don't apply to family businesses, where the child is considered part owner, Carr said.

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