Recreation Agencies Concerned about Child Labor Laws

By Kozlowski, James C. | Parks & Recreation, August 1996 | Go to article overview

Recreation Agencies Concerned about Child Labor Laws


Kozlowski, James C., Parks & Recreation


It is unlikely that federal child labor regulations will be revised any time soon to permit increased employment of 14- and 15- year olds.

Members of the Great Lakes Regional Council of the NRPA recently expressed concerns about the impact of child labor laws on public park and recreation agencies. Specifically, Illinois was concerned about federal regulations which prohibit a child between the ages of 14 and 16 from working after 7:00 p.m. during the school term. According to the Council's Child Labor Law Task Force, these regulations prevent children in this age group from being "score keepers, concession attendants, etc. in activities that would not end before 7:00 p.m." Similarly, Minnesota expressed its concern that games in the spring time "begin at 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. and do not end until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., thus precluding a child under 16 from being a youth official. In one instance, an Illinois park district noted that it was "looking at a possible fine from the Federal Government of $6,OOO-$10,000" for possible violation of the federal labor laws.

On a recent audit, they found two concession workers had not clocked out until 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes past the school hour deadline, and that three pool guards, on four occasions had worked 15 to 20 minutes past the 9:00 p.m. summer deadline.

To avoid the risk of "an even heftier fine" in the future, the park district had decided that it "will not hire children under the age of 16."

According to the task force, the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association "are working with the Illinois Department of Labor to change some of the language in the present laws." Further, the task force recommended that the "Great Lakes Regional Council make the National Forum [of the National Recreation and Park Association] aware of the laws and how they affect the encouragement of youth working in recreational activities."

As described in the following paragraphs, it is unlikely that federal child labor regulations will be revised any time soon to permit increased employment of 14- and 15-year-olds beyond a narrow exception recently enacted for attendants employed by professional sports organizations.

Child Labor Regulations

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits "oppressive child labor." In pertinent part, section 203 of the Act defines "oppressive child labor" as "a

condition of employment under which any employee under the age of 16 years is employed by an employer (other than a parent or a person standing in place of a parent..)." 29 U.S.C. . 203. The FLSA does, however, authorize the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) to regulate limited employment for children between the ages of 14 and 16 under the following conditions:

The Secretary of Labor shall provide by regulation or by order that the employment of employees between the ages of 14 and 16 years in occupations other than manufacturing and mining shall not be deemed to constitute oppressive child labor if and to the extent that the Secretary of Labor determines that such employment is confined to periods which will not interfere with their schooling and to conditions which will not interfere with their health and well-being.

Pursuant to this authority under the FLSA, the Secretary has issued regulations which limit as follows the hours that 14- and 15-year-olds may work to:

(1) Outside school hours;

(2) Not more than 40 hours in any one week when school is not in session;

(3) Not more than 18 hours in any one week when school is in session;

(4) Not more than eight hours in any day when school is not in session;

(5) Not more than three hours in any day when school is in session; and

(6) Between 7:00 am. and 7:00 pam.; except during the summer (June 1 through Labor Day) when the evening hour is extended to 9:00 pam.

Summer school sessions are considered to be "outside school hours," i. …

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Recreation Agencies Concerned about Child Labor Laws
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