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Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States
teria for designating ''commendable workplaces for youth." These criteria would be used by local groups to identify who would earn the designation and to determine employers who are eligible to employ young people in school-related publicly supported programs.
Hours of Work
The Department of Labor is not authorized to establish restrictions on working hours for 16-and 17-year-olds. As the vast majority of 16-and 17-year-olds are still attending school, the historical reasons that justified the exemption of those 16 and older from the hour limitations no longer apply. Furthermore, high-intensity work (usually defined as more than 20 hours per week) has been associated with unhealthy and problem behaviors, including substance use and minor deviance, insufficient sleep and exercise, and limited time spent with families, and it is associated with decreased eventual educational attainment.
Care will have to be taken in setting an upper limit in number of work hours for 16-and 17-year-olds. Some circumstances may warrant exemptions from limitations on work hours during school, such as for adolescents in extreme financial need or for emancipated minors. There may also be special circumstances, related to an individual student or to the quality of the work (e.g., high-quality school-to-work placements), under which long hours may be determined to have fewer negative consequences. In addition to the number of hours worked per week, the number of hours per day and start and stop times of work, particularly on school nights, should also be considered for regulation.
Recommendation: The Department of Labor should be authorized by Congress to adopt a standard limiting the weekly maximum number of hours of work for 16-and 17-year-olds during the school year. This standard should be based on the extensive research about the adverse effects of high-intensity work while school is in session.