US Labor Dept. revises controversial child labor changes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

US Labor Dept. revises controversial child labor changes

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division will re-propose part of its regulation on child labor in agriculture interpreting the "parental exemption."

This re-proposal reflects the department's careful attention to public comments and its conclusion that it is appropriate to provide the public with further opportunities to participate in the regulatory process.

The parental exemption allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or guardian.  Congress created the parental exemption in 1966 when it expanded protections for children employed in agriculture and prohibited their employment in jobs the Department of Labor declared particularly hazardous for children under the age of 16.

The re-proposal process will seek comments and inputs as to how the department can comply with statutory requirements to protect children, while respecting rural traditions.  The revised version of the rule is expected to be published for public comment by early summer. 

"The Department of Labor appreciates and respects the role of parents in raising their children and assigning tasks and chores to their children on farms and of relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles in keeping grandchildren, nieces and nephews out of harm's way," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The announcement to re-propose the parental exemption means the department will have the benefit of additional public comment, and the public will have an opportunity to consider a revised approach to this issue. We will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that our child labor in agriculture rule generally, and the parental exemption specifically, fully reflect input from rural communities."

The department published and invited public comments on its proposed rule on child labor in agriculture on Sept. 2, 2011.  The proposed rule aimed to increase protections for children working in agriculture while preserving the benefits that safe and healthy work can provide. The Wage and Hour Division was driven to update its 40-year-old child labor regulations by studies showing that children are significantly more likely to be killed while performing agricultural work than while working in all other industries combined.  The department's child labor in agriculture statutory authority extends only to children employed in agriculture who are 15 years of age or younger.

 

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