Saying that “children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Sept. 2 proposed substantial revisions to the department’s child labor regulations to ban youth under certain ages from engaging in specific types of work at offfarm agricultural businesses, as well as on farms not owned or operated by their parents.
Among other things, the U.S. Labor Department is proposing to establish a new hazardous occupation order that would prevent youth less than 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transportation of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places and types of employment would include grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feedlots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions. The proposed rule also would prohibit youth younger than 18 from agricultural work involving animals, and in storage bins, pesticide-handling, timber operations and manure pits. Farm workers less than age 16 also generally would be banned from operating almost all power-driven equipment, as well as from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco. The proposal also would prohibit all youth – whether employed by agricultural or non-agricultural operations – from using electronic (including communication) devices when operating power-driven equipment.
The proposed rule, on which comments are sought by Nov. 1, also would revise the civil monetary penalty regulations to incorporate the processes the Wage and Hour Division uses to determine whether to impose a child labor fine and the amount of the penalty. The Labor Department’s 50-page proposal, available by clicking here, was issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As noted previously, the agency stressed that the proposal would not alter the statute’s so-called “parental exemption” involving children working on farms owned or operated by their parents.