Topic:
AGRICULTURE (GENERAL); CHILD LABOR; JUVENILES; EMPLOYMENT (GENERAL);
Location:
JUVENILES - EMPLOYMENT ;

OLR Research Report


Connecticut General Assembly



OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH

December 23, 1997

TO: 97-R-1478

FROM: Judith S. Lohman, Principal Analyst

RE: Child Labor Requirements in Connecticut

You asked for a summary of state and federal child labor laws, a list of state penalties for violating child labor laws, and for child labor violation enforcement statistics. You also asked how many farm workers work in Connecticut and if they have collective bargaining rights.

SUMMARY

State and federal child labor laws are similar. The stricter of the two applies in any given situation. Both generally bar employment for children under age 14 except in agriculture and certain other specified trades. Between ages 14 and 18, child labor is permitted but heavily regulated with hours limited and hazardous work barred.

Agricultural use of child labor is less regulated than child labor in other industries. Federal law generally requires a child working in agriculture to be at least age 12, although children as young as 10 are permitted to work as hand harvesters. The minimum age for most agricultural work under state law is 14 but state law does not cover farms with fewer than 15 employees. In addition, a child's labor on his own family's farm is completely unregulated.

Fines for violating state child labor laws are relatively low even though many were doubled effective October 1, 1997. The highest state fine is $200, compared to a maximum fine of $10,000 for a federal child labor violation. The state law is enforced by the state Labor Department, which reports 1,443 violations and $30,000 in civil penalties in FY 1996-97.

The size of Connecticut's agricultural workforce is difficult to pin down but the most recent figures show 11,416 such workers, including migrants. The biggest users of migrant worker in the state are apple and tobacco growers.

Farm workers are excluded from coverage under both the state and national labor relations acts. This means their rights to organize and bargain collectively are not legally protected.

CHILD LABOR LAWS

The basic law regulating child labor in the United States is the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law serves as a “floor” for state regulation of child labor. States may pass laws and adopt regulations regarding child labor, as long as they are at least as strict or stricter than the FLSA and its implementing regulations. Connecticut's state laws on child labor coincide with the FLSA in most respects. Both state and federal law restricts employment of minors under age 18. Table 1 below summarizes the provisions of federal and state child labor laws and shows which law applies in Connecticut.

Table 1: State and Federal Laws Restricting Child Labor

Provision

Federal

State

Applicability

Ages 16 to 18

Employment permitted except in jobs defined as hazardous or detrimental to health by labor secretary.

Same

No difference except hazardous work definitions may vary slightly.

Ages 14 to 16

Not permitted in manufacturing, mining or hazardous occupations. Hazardous occupation list more restrictive than for 16 to 18-year-olds. Allowed in other occupations in accordance with labor secretary's regulations to the extent it does not interfere with school or with the child's health and well-being.

Not permitted in manufacturing, mercantile or theatrical industry, restaurant or public dining room, bowling alley, shoeshine parlor or barber shops. Not permitted in hazardous occupations and in a long list of specified hazardous or dangerous occupations.

Either may apply depending on the situation.

Work for parents

Employment of own children under age 16 is permitted in occupations other than manufacturing, mining, hazardous employment, or employment detrimental to the child's health or well-being.

No similar exception (except for agricultural employment, see below)

State law generally more protective.

Table 1 (Continued)

Provision

Federal

State

Applicability

Hours

For minors 14 to 16, hours limited to 18 per week (23 in school-to-work education programs) when school is in session and three hours per school day. When school is out, limits are 40 hours per week and 8 per day.

For minors less than 16, hours limited to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. except between June 1 and Labor Day, when they may work until 9 p.m.

Detailed hours restrictions and exemptions for minors under age 18 who have not graduated from high school, depending on the type of job and type of business where they are working.

Depending on the type of business, the job, and the worker's age, the state or federal law may be more protective and may apply. State law generally conforms to, or is slightly stricter than, federal law regarding hours.

Work-study programs, apprenticeships, etc.

Allowed for those at least age 14 with approval of the labor secretary, according to specified criteria. Secretary may waive certain restrictions in law. Approvals must be renewed every two years. Hazardous employment for 14-to 16-year-olds not permitted even under waiver.

Allowed for those at least age 14 if approved by the commissioners of labor and education. Also exempt from restrictions if at least age 14 and (1) enrolled in a summer work-recreation program sponsored by a town or public agency and approved by the labor commissioner, or (2) placed on vocational parole by the children and families commissioner. Some waivers and exemptions from hazardous occupation restrictions allowed.

Depending on the situation, either may apply.

Table 1 (Continued)

Provision

Federal

State

Applicability

Agriculture

May be employed outside of school hours at age 12 or 13 with written consent of parent or guardian or if the parent or guardian is employed on the same farm. Under age 12, may be employed outside of school hours by parent or guardian on own farm, or with parent's written consent, on another farm exempt from minimum wage requirements (on account of size). No child below age 16 may be employed in any agricultural job deemed hazardous for such children except on parents' farm. Some exceptions allowed for vocational education and 4-H training programs.

Minors must be at least age 14 to work in agriculture, except for an agricultural employer who employs 15 or fewer employees during the week. Members of the minor's immediate family are exempt from these age requirements.

Varies depending on situation and age of employee. Federal law appears generally stricter but has many specific exemptions.

Hand harvesters

General age restrictions may be waived for children between ages 10 and 12 to work as hand harvesters in certain agricultural operations for up to eight weeks between June 1 and October 15 in any year outside school hours. Secretary must consider specified criteria concerning children's safety and welfare in granting waivers and waivers must set specific conditions.

No specific provision but probably covered by agricultural work provision (see above).

State

Working papers

No provision but employers must record date of birth for all employees.

Proof of age or working papers required for all minors under age 18 (under 16 for agricultural workers).

State

State or federal child labor laws do not cover certain types of employment. These are listed in Table 2 below.

Because the stricter law applies, federal exemptions do not apply unless they are reflected in state law and vice versa. Thus, the far-right column of the table shows which law applies to each listed type of employment.

Table 2: Exemptions from Child Labor Laws

Type of Employment

Federal

State

Applicability

Acting

Child actors employed to perform in movies or theatrical, radio, or t.v. productions are exempt.

Not exempt

State

Domestic service

No general exemption.

Exempt

Federal

Street trades

No exemption except for newspaper delivery (see below).

Exempt

Federal

Newspapers

Those who deliver newspapers to the consumer.

Distribution exempt

Federal

Christmas wreaths

Homeworkers principally engaged in making natural evergreen Christmas wreaths, including harvesting products used to make them.

Not exempt

State

Table 3 shows the statutory penalties for violating state laws governing child labor. Some of these penalties were increased as of October 1, 1997 but others have remained unchanged for many years.

Table 3: Child Labor Law Penalties

Violation

Fine

Date of Last Increase

CGS Section

Employing a child under age 18 in a manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment other than a supermarket between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. or in a supermarket between midnight and 6 a.m. on a nonschool night and 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on a school night.

First offense: up to $50

Second offense: up to $200 or up to 30 days in jail.

If the violator is the child's parent or guardian: up to $50 for each offense.

October 1, 1997

31-14

31-15

Employing a child under age 18 in a mechanical or manufacturing establishment in excess of 9 hours per day and 48 hours per week.

First offense: up to $25

Second offense: up to $100 or up to 30 days in jail.

If the violator is the child's parent or guardian: up to $50 for each offense.

Before 1949

31-12

Employing a child under age 18 in a mercantile establishment in excess of 8 hours per day or six days and 48 hours per week.

Up to $100

Before 1949

31-13

Table 3 (Continued)

Violation

Fine

Date of Last Increase

CGS Section

Employing a child under 18 in a telegraph or messenger company in a city of a least 20,000 between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Up to $50 per day

October 1, 1997

31-16

With some exceptions, employing a child under 18 in a bowling alley; barber, hairdressing or manicuring establishment; amusement, recreational, or shoe shining establishment; billiard or pool room; or photograph gallery between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Up to $200

October 1, 1997

31-18

Employing a child under 16 illegally or under 18 in a hazardous job, or employing a child without a certificate of age.

Up to $200

October 1, 1997

31-23

Employing a child under 16 in specified hazardous jobs.

Up to $200

October 1, 1997

31-24

Employing a child under 16 to be in charge of an elevator.

Up to $50

October 1, 1997

31-25

Employing a child under 18 to be in charge of an elevator that fund faster than 200 feet per minute.

Up to $200

October 1, 1997

31-25

Employing a minor under age 14 in agriculture (except when a member of the employer's immediate family or when the average number of weekly employees is 15 or fewer).

Employing a minor age 14 or 15 in agriculture more than 48 hours or six days a week or 8 hours per day.

Employing a minor under age 16 in agriculture without legal proof of age.

First offense: up to $50

Second offense: up to $100

Before 1949

22-13 to 22-17

ENFORCEMENT

For the most recent year (FY 1996-97), the Labor Department reports the following statistics concerning child labor law enforcement:

Complaints: 143

Violations: 1,443

Civil fines assessed: $30,000

Arrests: 1

AGRICULTURAL LABOR FORCE IN CONNECTICUT

Statistics on the size of Connecticut agricultural workforce are sketchy. The most recent census of agricultural workers (compiled in 1992) shows 11,416 agricultural workers in Connecticut, including migrants. According to the State Labor Department, the major crops grown in Connecticut that use migrant labor are apples and tobacco. Smaller numbers of migrant laborers are also used in dairy, greenhouse, and vegetable operations. Most migrants who work in Connecticut are Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans from Florida.

Other indications of the size of the agricultural labor force in the state may be derived from statistics on work orders filed with the state Labor Department's Alien Certification Unit. The unit acts as an agent of the U.S. Labor Department in recruiting and certifying non-immigrant aliens to work for agricultural employers on a temporary basis. Use of such workers is allowed when there are not sufficient U.S. workers available. For the year ending March 1997, the Alien Certification Unit had received 116 work orders from Connecticut farmers and made 351 placements of U.S. workers in response to those orders. The remaining jobs were filled by non-immigrant alien workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, also known as the “H-2A Program.” A fuller description of the program and the state role in it is attached.

Earnings in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry sector in Connecticut totaled $418 million in the fourth quarter of 1996 according to the October 1997 Connecticut Economic Digest. Though a small industry in the state, this sector saw the greatest growth in earnings of any major industry between 1990 and 1996. Earnings in the sector grew by 45.7% over the six-year period.

FARMWORKERS' COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS

Under current law, Connecticut farm workers' have no organizing or collective bargaining rights.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees the union organizing and collective bargaining rights of most private-sector workers, expressly excludes “any individual employed as an agricultural laborer” (29 USCA 152). This exclusion was part of the original Wagner Act when it was passed in 1935. The exclusion of farm workers from the act means that such workers have no access to the National Labor Relations Board's representation election machinery or to the protections against employer unfair labor practices. Such workers are also not constrained by prohibitions on their union activity particularly in the area of secondary boycotts. They are subject to state laws of property and torts.

Like the NLRA, the Connecticut Labor Relations Act (CGS 31-101 (6)) excludes “any individual employed as an agricultural worker” from its coverage. Thus, the organizing and unfair labor practice provisions of the state law do not cover agricultural workers.

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