Protecting Your Kids on the Job
As the weather heats up, students are opening the classifieds in the paper or looking online for a new summer job. If you have a child under the age of 16 and you are uninformed of Missouri’s child labor laws, your kid’s paycheck could come from an employer who is either equally unaware of the law or chooses to ignore the law created to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our state’s working youth.
In 2009 and 2010, the DLS received 38 complaints, conducted 2,681 employer inspections, and issued 1,714 separate violations. More than $31,000 in fines were assessed against the businesses found to be in violation of child labor laws. Some examples of egregious violations in past years include a child working in a meat processing plant who suffered crushed legs when he fell into the vat of a large meat chiller. Another violation involved a child who worked in a restaurant and his hand was caught and mutilated in a meat tenderizer. In addition, our investigators have witnessed the presence of children on active construction sites.
In the last nine months, one violation included two underage children working cattle chutes in a commercial livestock operation. In another instance, a child worker was not only ordered to load boxes into a trash compactor (which, by federal law, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to open, access, or operate), he was then instructed to climb into the chute to jump up and down on the boxes to push them farther down into the chute.
The Division of Labor Standards is responsible for enforcing the law and holding employers accountable for their violations. In order to fulfill this duty and to protect Missouri’s young workforce, the department relies on complaints against employers and active participation with parents. If you are a parent, be educated on what type of employment your kid is legally able to do and make sure your kid’s first job experience is a safe one.