In December, the Department of Labor announced that inspections at several stores of toy retailer Toys 'R' Us revealed violations of child-labor laws. The company was fined $200,000 and ordered to change store policy to conform to federal child-labor law, according to the Department of Labor.
A spokesperson for Toys 'R' Us said many of the violations, in which 14- and 15-- year-old workers were scheduled for too many hours or worked too late into the night, were the result of several managers' misunderstanding of federal child-labor law as it pertained to the young workers.
For human resources professionals, The Toys 'R' Us gaffe spotlights the continuing rift between HR and management: The existence of regulations does not ensure correct compliance with them. Sanford Jacoby, professor of HR at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California Los Angeles, says that the changing role of HR makes compliance enforcement difficult.
"As HR departments get more lean, we'll see more situations like this where line managers are operating in ignorance of some of the HR issues they need to know about," he says. "HR is in a difficult position of being the transmission belt for regulations issued by the government. …