Child labor violations are on the rise in New York State

The Citizen employees

The New York State Department of Labor has launched a public campaign to educate young New Yorkers about their rights in the workplace following a recent spike in child labor violations.

The agency said the lawsuit was in response to a significant increase in child labor violations in the United States, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, with New York State seeing a 68 percent increase in violations in 2022 compared to the previous year.

According to a press release, USDOL reported an increase in child labor violations and injuries to young workers across the country in July 2022, with over 2,800 underage workers employed in violation of the law in 2021. New York state had 464 child labor cases in 2022 and collected over $270,000 in civil penalties from employers who violated child labor laws. Violations in the United States have increased in recent years, with a sharp increase since the pandemic. Most violations in New York were related to poor wages, working hours and illegal employment.

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The state’s public service campaign aims to educate young workers about their rights and protections while reminding employers of their responsibilities when hiring youth workers under state and federal labor laws.

“As we see an increase in child labor violations, we are acting quickly to ensure young people know their rights and are protected in the workplace,” said Roberta Reardon, commissioner of the US Department of Labor, in a statement. “Violating labor laws is unacceptable, and it is particularly egregious when it comes to vulnerable workers who are just entering the workforce. This campaign will be vital in empowering and protecting New York workers and we are proud to be leading the way.”

The public service campaign includes videos on topics such as safe working conditions, minimum wage and working nights, which are promoted and published on social media accounts and other digital platforms. The campaign also includes marketing materials distributed to schools and employers.

To prevent companies from exceeding working time limits for young workers, the Department of Labor will continue to promote available resources to help them hire staff to ensure they have an adequate workforce. Through NYSDOL’s Business Services website, companies can post job openings, learn about hiring incentives, and access free consulting services.

Some important tips for young workers and companies:

• Employees ages 14 to 17 require a certificate of employment, also known as employment papers, to accept a job in upstate New York.

• The length of shifts, the time of day and the number of hours that minors can work are limited depending on their age and school years.

• Minors are prohibited from night work and have different restrictions than adults.

• Minimum wage laws apply to all workers (unless otherwise noted), including minors.

• Minors may not perform certain tasks or occupations that are considered dangerous. These duties and activities are prohibited at the state and/or federal level.

For more information on child labor laws, visit the Department of Labor’s Underage Employment website.

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