The Division of Labor Standards is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Missouri's Child Labor Laws. The law ensures that no child younger than 16 years of age is employed in an occupation that is detrimental to the child's safety, health, morals, educational process or general well being.
Door-to-Door sales does not apply to school, church or organization sales such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
It is prohibited in Missouri for anyone under the age of 16. It has also been proven dangerous for many Missouri youth.
If the child is being paid for the work, the child is employed and Missouri law specifically prohibits such employment for anyone under the age of 16. In addition, no one under the age of 18 is permitted to work as an "independent contractor" in any capacity. If the worker is younger than 18 and is receiving income, the worker is considered to be an employee of the business.
Although there are legitimate businesses raising funds for anti-drug education efforts, some use this message for personal gain. These youth peddling operations can be found in many states across the country. While they appear to operate independently of one another, the basic sales pitch is the same.
The founders of these companies insist that the sales promote the development of youth responsibility. We find alarming instances of young people in the employ of these street operations who become either victims of, or participants in, criminal activity.
Some door-to-door operations in Missouri consistently maintain that their primary purpose is to provide substance abuse awareness information to schools. School district officials have been unable to substantiate the existence of this drug awareness program.
In addition to exploiting children, these "anti-drug" campaigns threaten to trivialize the efforts of valid anti-drug campaigns. Education and a heightened awareness provide our best defense in fighting those who seek to exploit our children. If you are approached by a young person selling candy (or any other item) to finance a purported anti-drug and/or pro-youth campaign, we advise you and any potential buyer to make the following inquiries of the young seller:
- "Tell me more about what the money supports."
- "Name some schools that your campaign has worked with."
- "How old are you?"
- "Where is your supervisor?"
- "Do you have a solicitor's permit?"
- "How much do you personally make from each sale (donation)?"
Generally a pointed inquiry will reveal to the wary buyer whether or not the operation is all that it claims to be.
For children involved in any type of door-to-door sales, or youth peddling operations, the Missouri Division of Labor Standards provides the following recommendations to ensure the safety of working youth:
- Always check with our Division. For further information on young worker safety, see the following sites:
- Young Worker Safety & Health - http://www.youngworkers.org
- National Child Labor Coalition - http://www.stopchildlabor.org
- OSHA's Teen Worker site - http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/teenworkers/teenworkers.html
- Always make sure parents or guardians have the employer's name, address, phone number, schedule and place of work.
- Always insure that children work with a buddy.
- Always have adult supervision in the immediate area.
- Never allow children to travel farther that 10 miles from home.
- Always have an emergency plan in place (what to do if the child is dropped off on the street corner; is taken across state lines; is asked to do something illegal, etc.).
- Children should be instructed to never enter anyone's home.
- Check with the local police or city/county clerk to see if the employer has a license to operate.
- Be sure the children know their rights under the law.