As mentioned in a previous post, with the schools out on summer vacation, many students are looking for summer jobs. At the same time, a number of employers looking to hire young people for positions because young workers tend to require less pay and there is no long-term commitment when hiring what amount to seasonal workers. While it is generally encouraged to hire young people so that they can gain experience, responsibility, and some pay, there are nonetheless legal requirements and regulations to follow when doing so.
As mentioned previously, the Washington Administrative Code, or WAC, provides guidance and regulation with respect to child labor. The WAC defines child labor as an underage minor working a job. Underage child labor is when the child is under the age of 18. The minimum age that a child may be employed is 14. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industry, or Department of L&I, regulates and enforces child labor laws.
The previous post provided a list of state laws that limit how much a minor may work and when a minor may work. Note that these laws are not applicable to a family business. A child working in a family business has no cap on hours worked, both per day and per week. Seemingly, the reasoning for this exception is that parents, who would be the employers, know best when it comes to taking care of their children, which includes what is considered a healthy work schedule for the child. This exception is applicable to both vacation time and during the year. Note that this exception does not trump a parent’s obligation to have his or her child schooled.
To employ a minor, one must obtain a work permit. One can obtain a permit at the Department of L & I’s website or by going there in person. One can also obtain a minor work permit endorsement when submitting a business license at the Department of L&I.
The Department of L&I bans employers from employing minors in what it considers to be “hazardous” jobs. This is applicable to a child who works for a family business as well. The Department of L & I provides categories of jobs otherwise permitted where employers are prohibited from employing a minor:
- Operating meat slicers or powered bakery equipment such as a Hobart mixer.
- Regular driving of motor vehicles to make deliveries, such as pizza delivery. No driving at all allowed for those 16 or under.
- Driving a forklift.
- Working at heights greater than 10 feet off the ground or floor level.
- Loading, operating or unloading of paper balers and compactors.
- Work in freezers and meat coolers in processing facilities.
- Slaughtering, meat packing, or food processing.
- Working alone past 8 p.m. without supervision by someone 18 years or older who is on the premises at all times.
Prohibited Duties in Construction-Related Activities
- All work on or around a roof.
- Working at heights greater than 10 feet off the ground.
- Wrecking and demolition.
- Elevators, hoists, and cranes.
- Trenching or excavating.
- Boilers or in engine rooms.
- Power-driven woodworking machines.
- Earth-moving machines.
Those who are 16 and older can perform certain tasks related to electrical work that is not otherwise prohibited. Information about the electrical trainee application can be obtained at the L&I website.
Other Prohibited Job Duties
- 17-year-olds may drive only under limited circumstances.
- Logging and sawmill work.
- Selling candy, flowers, or other items to motorists on a public roadway.
- Manufacturing of brick, tile, and similar products.
- Jobs for which exposure requires the use of respiratory protection or hearing protection.
- Work in saunas or massage parlors.
- Nurses’ aide or nurses’ assistant, unless the minor is in a state-certified program.
- Jobs with possible exposure to bodily fluids, or radioactive and hazardous substances.
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