cannot be performed by children under the age of 18 in nonagricultural jobs and under the age of 16 in agricultural jobs; and establish minimum ages for various types of work. The act prohibits "oppressive child labor in commerce," which it defines as work that may be detrimental to children's health or well-being. Another stated purpose is to ensure that the employment of 14-and 15-year-olds does not interfere with their schooling. In general, these standards represent an all-or-nothing approach; regulations prohibit some types of employment for children but ignore the conditions of work for youngsters in permissible jobs.

By statute, different employment standards apply to children employed in nonagricultural work and those engaged in agricultural work (29 U.S.C. §213 (c); see also, 29 C.F.R. 570 (C)(3)). Hours of work and hazardous orders, even for the same hazard, vary significantly under each set of standards.

Few standards in the FLSA apply to all children and adolescents at work. Although the basic minimum age for employment is 14 in nonagricultural occupations (except for those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor), there are various exemptions. Minors younger than 14 may work for their parents (except in mining, manufacturing, or the jobs declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor). They may also be employed in movie, radio, or theatrical businesses and to deliver newspapers.

Children working in agriculture are covered under different, less protective standards than are those working in other industries. Children of any age can be employed in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents. Those who are 12 or 13 may perform any nonhazardous farm job outside of school hours, either with their parents' consent or on the same farm as their parents. A 1977 amendment to the FLSA allows the Department of Labor to grant special waivers for the employment of children aged 10 and 11 to hand-harvest certain seasonal crops outside of school hours, although no such waivers have been granted by the department since 1986.1


As a result of a 1980 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (National Association of Farmworker Organizations et at., v. Marshall, 202 U.S. App. DC 317; 628 F.2d 604), the department has been enjoined from issuing these special waivers if any pesticides have been used on the crops to be harvested.

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