Child Labor Maps
We reviewed state-level agricultural and non-agricultural child labor laws for discrepancies with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Even though the FLSA is not a 'gold standard' in national child labor laws, it is federal law in the US and we have used this comparison to identify the potential for violations of children's basic rights in the United States, and to monitor where states are rolling their laws back.
States in yellow have proposed or have made recent changes to child labor law.
States in black exempt agricultural child labor from state laws.
Numbers in italic brackets are the FLSA age standards: e.g. (14) = 14 years old.
Please see below the map for methodology and definitions.
Methodology and definitions
STATE EXEMPTIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL CHILD LABOR: Several states have no or partial legislation regarding agricultural child labor. Where there is no legislation, these states usually default to the FLSA's agricultural child labor laws. However, during the course of the research, discrepancies were discovered between guidance provided by the state itself (through telephone calls and website information), the state legislative codes, and interpretations made by the US Department of Labor. Where these discrepancies arose, a note has been made at the bottom of each state's entry.
MINIMUM AGE: The FLSA minimum age for agricultural work is 12 with parental consent or with a parent/guardian; 14 without consent; and there is no minimum age to work on a farm owned or operated by a parent or guardian. For states, we identified if states met these age standards, or if they have better or worse age standards.
- MINIMUM HAZARDOUS WORK AGE: The FLSA minimum age for hazardous agricultural labor is 16, or 14 with certification for some types of work. For states, we identified if states met these age standards, or if they have better or worse age standards.
STATE EXEMPTIONS FOR SMALL FARMS: The FLSA exempts agricultural businesses which do not conduct interstate business, or which have a gross volume of sales of less than $500k p/a. In addition, there is an exemption for small farms not subject to minimum wage requirements. At the state level, there is no child labor legislation for small farms which are exempt from the FLSA in any of the states which have no legislation on agricultural child labor. This is indicated on the map under the question 'Is agricultural child labor exempt from state labor laws?'
LIMITATIONS ON HOURS: The FLSA specifies that children aged 12-15 years old can only work outside school hours when school is in session. However, the number of hours a child can work is unlimited at any time of year. We identified any state laws that have additional protections for children by limiting the number of hours a child aged 12-15 can work, when school is in session or during vacations.
ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS: The FLSA does NOT legislate for breaks, maximum days worked per week, or work permits. In addition, the federal hazardous orders for child labor in agriculture do not include any protection against working with toxic crops (such as tobacco) or heat stress. Finally, as the full-time working age for children in agriculture is 16 years old, 16-17 year olds are not protected by any federal orders on working with pesticides. We identified where states offer any of these additional protections.
Exceptions and discrepancies
MINIMUM AGE TO WORK AND WAIVERS: The FLSA includes a clause which allows the Secretary of State to grant waivers for 10 year-old children to conduct agricultural work. However, although the Department of Labor no longer grants this waiver, it should be noted that 11 states have no or lower minimum ages for agricultural work. These states are Minnesota (no minimum working age); Nevada, South Dakota (no minimum age to work without parental consent); Illinois (minimum working age of 10); Wisconsin (12 to work without parental consent); Minnesota, Utah (no minimum age to work with consent, 12 without consent); North Dakota (no minimum age to work with consent); Massachusetts (no minimum age to work with consent, although it is 18 to work without consent); Colorado (12 to work without consent); and Florida (13 to work with livestock without consent).
INTERSTATE EXEMPTION: The FLSA exempts farms from child labor laws if they do not sell their produce interstate. However, Oregon specifically legislates that 9 year olds can conduct some hand harvesting as long as their collection buckets are clearly marked to prevent their crops being sold outside of the state.
Our analysis found that 18 states have no or only partial agricultural child labor laws. This differs slightly to the list published by the US Department of Labor. The US DoL list includes Montana, which was excluded by KSCF US as the state law only exempts children working in agriculture if it is for or with their parents. KSCF US includes Idaho, as state laws were last amended in 1911 and agriculture was presumed to be excluded; the Idaho Department of Labor confirmed this by telephone. The KSCF US list also includes Pennsylvania, as the child labor laws exclude agricultural child labor (as confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor by email), although minors undertaking seasonal work are legislated for in Seasonal Farm Workers law.
These maps were made possible through research conducted by Julie Johnson, Esha Kode, Penelope De Roys, Emerson Femc, Ella Kruczynska, Morgan Keyt, and Shaharazad Abuel-Ealeh.
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