A Publication of WTVP

With summer just around the corner, many teens are busy filling out employment applications to land those summer jobs. While many employers have teens working in their places of business year-round, the numbers escalate in the summer months. As an employer, are you up to speed on Illinois’ Child Labor Law? Please read on to find out why you should be.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that many teenage workers in the retail and service industries work long hours and use dangerous equipment despite federal child labor laws prohibiting such practices. The study conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 52 percent of males under 18 and 43 percent of females under 18 reported using dangerous equipment or serving alcohol where it is consumed, indicating violations of federal law.

In addition to the study, fines were recently issued for violations of child labor laws in 2006. A Taco Bell franchisee in Richmond, Missouri, paid $24,200 in fines after a 17-year-old employee was killed in a traffic accident while driving to pick up provisions for the restaurant. In addition, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. were fined $31,680 after the Department of Labor accused the company of violating child labor laws at stores located in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Child Labor Law in Illinois is complex. In Illinois, workers under the age of 16 are considered minors for purposes of employment. State law limits the occupations in which they may be employed and the number of hours they may work. Further distinctions are made among minors according to age, with special rules and exceptions in some groups (820 ILCS 205/1et seq.). Both federal and state child labor laws apply to most employers. If the laws conflict, the more restrictive provision applies—and child labor laws are strictly enforced.

Here are a few highlights. Employers must post a summary of child labor laws wherever minors are working, along with a list of the occupations prohibited to such minors. Employers must also post—in a conspicuous place where minors under 16 years of age are employed or allowed to work—a printed notice stating the starting and ending hours of work, meal times and the Department of Labor’s toll-free telephone number. Employers must record the name, age and address of every minor employee and maintain records specifying daily and weekly hours of employment, starting and quitting times and the time taken for meal periods. These records must be kept on the premises for three years after the time of their making.

The Illinois Department of Labor enforces state child labor laws. The Department is authorized to conduct investigations, visit and inspect businesses that employ minors, initiate complaints, conduct hearings, issue cease-and-desist orders and compel attendance of witnesses, testimony and production of evidence through subpoenas.

Here’s the scary part. Violations of state child labor laws carry civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Intentional violations are considered Class A misdemeanors. Each minor intentionally employed in violation of the law constitutes a separate offense, as does each day of a continuing violation. For more in-depth information on Illinois Child Labor Law visit the Illinois Department of Labor’s website at IBI