Disturbing reports have been circulating in the news media about the problem of child labor, mostly being exploited in operations overseas, but also surfacing in the United States.
Some of this coverage has arisen from the U.S. Department of Labor’s recent initiative targeting underage workers. This has resulted in the proliferation of prominent news stories throughout the country.
At the same time, legislation has been introduced and in some cases been passed in 10 states, primarily dealing with teenagers of 15 and 16.
Employers can engage in certain best practices to help avoid child labor law violations, according to attorney Ryan Krone of the Akerman law firm.
One way to show a company’s commitment is through strong policies. Employers must have zero tolerance policies for violations of child labor laws.
Employers who legally hire employees under the age of 18 should post warnings prominently throughout the workplace identifying equipment or areas off-limits to minors. Also, provide different nametags and mark dangerous equipment.
Vendors and contractors must meet comparable standards, Krone says. Include detailed disclosure requirements, such as stating the contractor has no right to subcontract without authorization and validation by the client’s leadership team. Contracts should include a strong indemnification provision in the event child labor occurs.
It is important to train your managers and supervisors about child labor requirements. They must know what to look for and how to enforce the company’s policies and comply with the law.
While E-Verify is not a perfect solution, employers should make sure they use E-Verify to confirm employment authorization, Krone stresses.