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[whitespace] Kids' Rules

Today's child labor laws remain poorly enforced

By Genevieve Roja


Each week, 148,000 minors are illegally hired. According to a 1998 analysis by Doug Kruse, an economist at Rutgers University, it's no wonder that there are more stringent laws. In California, 12- and 13-year-olds may not be employed unless they are employed in "household occupations, as personal attendants [which includes baby-sitting and companionship services], or as newscarriers." Fourteen- and 15-year-olds who hold nonagricultural employment may be employed outside of school hours for a maximum of three hours per day and 18 hours per week when school is in session, and eight hours per day and 40 hours per week when school is not in session. This particular age group cannot work before 7am and after 7pm, unless it is during the summer. In that case, they may work until 9pm. In Kristen's case, her 30-hour workweeks exceed the number of hours allowed by the state for her age. Even her first job, delivering newspapers at 8 years old, is prohibited by the state, which requires newscarriers to be at least 12 years of age.

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds in California may be employed a maximum of eight hours on nonschool days, four hours on a school day and a maximum of 48 hours a week. They cannot work later than 10pm on a school night and no later than 12:30am on a nonschool night. The state prohibits 17 jobs for youths under the age of 18. Most involve working with explosives, working construction, driving a motor vehicle, working with power-driven machines, and other jobs with similar occupational and safety hazards.

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From the May 17-23, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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