Title: Wage and Hour Division: Working to Keep Kids Safe – A Commitment to Protecting Children in the Workplace
Child labor exploitation is a pressing issue that demands our attention. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recognizes the urgent need to address this problem. With a focus on enforcement, education, and providing compliance assistance, WHD aims to ensure children are protected from dangerous and illegal employment practices. While progress is being made, there is still work to be done to prevent children from being exploited. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into WHD’s efforts to address child labor violations and emphasize the importance of protecting children in the workplace.
Child labor violations have seen a significant increase in recent years, prompting WHD to launch a National Strategic Enforcement Initiative on Child Labor. In federal fiscal year 2023, WHD concluded 955 investigations, holding employers more accountable for violating child labor laws than ever before. Shockingly, almost 5,800 children were found to be employed in violation of the law, showcasing an 88% increase since 2019. As a result of these investigations, over $8 million in penalties were assessed for child labor violations, representing an 83% increase from the previous year.
Severe Violations and Tragedies:
Some of WHD’s recent investigations have exposed severe violations that tragically resulted in harm to children. Packers Sanitation Services Inc., a provider of cleaning services at meat processing facilities, was found guilty of employing more than 100 children in dangerous roles involving chemicals and hazardous equipment. The company faced a penalty of $1.5 million. Similarly, Florence Hardwoods, a sawmill operator in Wisconsin, illegally employed nine children to operate hazardous machinery, leading to a tragic incident that claimed the life of one child. Monogram Food Solutions, a national food manufacturer, was also found guilty of employing nine teens illegally to operate dangerous equipment. These cases highlight the continued threat that illegal child labor poses to children.
Ongoing Efforts and Collaboration:
While WHD’s enforcement results demonstrate progress, the division remains dedicated to preventing and eliminating illegal child labor. With over 800 ongoing child labor investigations, WHD continues to work tirelessly to protect children from exploitation. Collaboration with stakeholders, including employers, lawmakers, and community leaders, is crucial in establishing a safer work environment for children.
Call for Funding and Support:
In order to strengthen their efforts, WHD is urging Congress to fulfill the funding request in the president’s supplemental budget for $50 million each for the division and the Office of the Solicitor of Labor. These additional funds will facilitate the investigation of child labor cases and support the well-being of children nationwide. It is essential to acknowledge the need for increased resources to combat child labor exploitation effectively.
Child labor exploitation is a critical issue that demands our collective attention and action. WHD’s comprehensive approach towards addressing child labor violations, conducting investigations, and holding employers accountable has yielded positive results. However, there is still work to be done to prevent the exploitation of children in the workplace. By joining the fight against child labor, collaborating with WHD, and reporting violations, we can contribute to creating a safer and more equitable future for young workers.
1. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division. (n.d.). Wage and Hour Division: Working to Keep Kids Safe. [Blog post]. Retrieved from [insert website or URL].
Disclaimer: This blog post is a summary of content from the Wage and Hour Division: Working to Keep Kids Safe.