Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today reminded employers in Pennsylvania of their responsibilities under the Commonwealth Child Labor Act enforced by L&I to protect working children from exploitation and hazardous working conditions. Berrier also urged members of the public to report suspected child labor violations to the department’s Office of Labor Law Compliance (BLLC) for investigation.
“The protections of child labor laws in this country are just as relevant today as they were in 1938 when the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) first prohibited the employment of ‘children in dangerous occupations,’ Berrier said. “Labour market dynamics change over time, but employers’ fundamental responsibility to obey the law and protect workers under the age of 18 will not. L&I will continue to support employers who offer 14-year-olds and more opportunity to learn valuable job skills and earn wages.. However, we will continue to hold accountable employers who exploit the vulnerability of young workers in violation of the law and common sense.
Pennsylvania child labor law protects the health, safety, and welfare of minors employed in the Commonwealth by limiting employment in certain establishments, restricting hours of work, regulating working conditions, and requiring work permits for children hired to fill a position. The BLLC investigates possible violations of child labor law and accepts complaints from the general public.
Violations of child labor law may result in administrative or criminal penalties. Criminal penalties could include fines of up to $500 for first offenses and up to $1,500 per offense and up to 10 days in jail for subsequent offenses. Administrative penalties can include fines of up to $5,000 per violation and corrective action orders to offending parties.
Since 2015, the BLLC has collected over $3.7 million in fines from nearly 400 entities in violation of the Act. So far in 2022, the BLLC has collected $130,000 from 58 entities in violation of the law.
L&I reminds Pennsylvania employers of the following prohibited occupations and limitations under child labor law.
- Professions prohibited to all minors: Minors of any age are prohibited from obtaining employment in an establishment designated as hazardous – a provision under the RSA and regulations under that law. Occupations considered dangerous or requiring the use of dangerous equipment, weapons or devices include the following:
- Legal age to witness or serve alcoholic beverages: With limited and specific exceptions, minors under the age of 16 may not be employed in establishments where alcoholic beverages are produced, sold or distributed. Minors aged 16 or 17 may be employed in a hotel, club or restaurant where alcoholic beverages are served but may not handle or serve alcoholic beverages. A person must be at least 18 years old to serve alcoholic beverages in businesses in Pennsylvania.
- Time and wage protections: With one exception for newspaper delivery work, all minors are restricted to working no more than 10 hours a day during school vacations, no more than eight hours a day during school term, and no more than six consecutive days a week. week. In addition, all minors must be entitled to a 30-minute meal period during or before five consecutive hours of work. There are more restrictive hour limits for minors aged 14 or 15. Minors involved in the performance also have different hours at which they are allowed to work. Miners working full-time or part-time must be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour in Pennsylvania.
- Exceptions to child labor law for parent/guardian employers: While the FLSA allows certain minors under the age of 16 to work for a business operated solely by a parent or guardian with no time limit, Pennsylvania law does not contain similar allowances. Regardless of the underage employee’s relationship to the owner, the law and its restrictions still apply.
- Requirement for School Work Papers: All minors who are employed must obtain work documents from their school district before employment begins, and employers must ensure that they notify a school district of employment after hiring a minor. This includes minors who attend a cyber school or who are home schooled.
Workers aged 18 and over are not subject to child labor laws. Where the FLSA and child labor law overlap, the law that offers the most protection to the young worker applies.
More information is available by calling the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance toll-free at 800-932-0665, or by visiting the bureau’s website.
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