The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Child Labor Provisions

Reference Number: MTAS-1517
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: July 25, 2016
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The FLSA was amended on July 19, 2010, making changes to the provisions of the Child Labor Law. The new provisions included lifting restrictions limiting the industries 14- and 15-year-olds were permitted to work; establishing new prohibition on youth peddling and setting higher penalties for violations resulting in serious injury or death. The full text of the legislation can be found here.

The regulations previously limited the occupations local governments could employ minors as a part of their regular workforce or in a summer jobs for youth program. The FLSA provided that “minors who were between 14 and 16 years old were permitted to work in any non-agricultural occupation not deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor as long as the employment does not interfere with their schooling or their health and well-being.” 29 C.F.R. § 570.34. Now, 14- and 15-year-olds may work not only in state and local governments, retail, food service and gasoline service establishments, but also in other environments such as banks, insurance companies, advertising agencies and information technology firms (https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/childlabor101_text.htm#1).

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may now perform “work of an intellectual or artistically creative nature such as computer programming, the writing of software, teaching or performing as a tutor, serving as a peer counselor or teacher’s assistant, singing, playing a musical instrument and drawing. Fifteen-year-olds may now work as lifeguards at traditional swimming pools and certain water amusement park attractions such as wave pools, lazy rivers and baby pools and elevated water slides. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may load and unload onto and off of motor vehicles “light, non-power driven, hand tools” (such as rakes or shovels) and “personal protective equipment” used as part of their own work, as well as personal items like backpacks or lunch boxes. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may perform work requiring them “to occasionally enter freezers only momentarily to retrieve items.”

“Minors between 14- and 16-years-old may work outside school hours. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds who are excused from compulsory school attendance may now work at businesses that use machinery to process wood products. They may not work more than eight hours in any one day when school is not in session. They may not work more than three hours in any one day when school is in session. They may not work more than 40 hours in any one week when school is not in session. They may not work more than 18 hours in any week when school is in session. Finally, minors may work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in any one day, except during the summer (June 1 through Labor Day) when the evening hour is 9 p.m.” 29 C.F.R. § 570.35(a). 29 C.F.R. § 570.35(b) provides an exception to the above restrictions for minors 14 and 15 years of age for “minors who are employed to perform sports concession services at professional sporting events.” 29 C.F.R. § 570.35(b).

The revisions prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from riding on a motor vehicle “outside of an enclosed passenger compartment” such as a bed of a pickup truck, the running board of a van or the bumper of a garbage truck. These workers may ride inside passenger compartments, but only under specific conditions. The changes also expand the list of prohibited “power-driven machinery” 14- and 15-year-olds are not allowed to operate to include lawn mowers, golf carts, all-terrain vehicles, trimmers, cutters, weed-eaters, edgers, food slicers, food grinders, food choppers, food processors, food cutters, and food mixers. Fourteen- and 15-year olds are specifically prohibited from “catching and cooping” all kinds of poultry in preparation for transport to market.

“Minors between 16 and 18 years of age are also prohibited from working in certain hazardous occupations.” 29 C.F.R. § 570.2(a)(ii). “Minors under 17 years of age are prohibited from driving on public roads as part of employment.” 29 U.S.C. § 213(c)(6). Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may now operate power-driven pizza dough rollers and portable, counter-top food mixers.

There were also changes to the hazardous occupations for 16- and 17-year-olds, most of which are new prohibitions. First, the prohibition against working in logging and in the operation of saw mills is expanded to include working in forest firefighting and other forestry service. While the current regulations prohibit them from operating power-driven hoisting devices, the new regulations expand this to include most work with elevators, cranes, derricks and man-lifts. The meat-processing prohibition was expanded to include working in slaughtering, meat-processing and rendering occupations including poultry slaughtering establishment.

The regulations expand the old prohibition against the operating and unloading of certain paper balers and paper box compactors to “all balers and compactors. The saw and shears prohibition now includes chain saws and other power-driven saws and wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs. Counter-top Mixers and Pizza Dough Roller are the only areas where DOL relaxed the regulations now allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to operate portable counter-top mixers, such as those used in private homes, and allowing minors to operate certain pizza dough rollers.

The Act, however, continues to provide that 17-year-old workers may drive cars and trucks at work during daylight hours only. They must have a valid driver’s license with no record of moving violations at the time of hire and have completed a state-approved driving school. The vehicle must have a seat belt and the employer must instruct the employee to use it. The vehicle must not weigh more than 6,000 pounds and the driving must not involve towing of vehicles, urgent deliveries, route deliveries or sales. The 17-year-old must not travel more than 30 miles from the place of employment. Finally, the driving must be occasional and incidental to the teen’s employment. The act also restricts the transportation of goods and passengers by 17-year-old drivers.

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