tion and maintenance of the recognition system might be supported by fees paid by employers.

Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should convene a prestigious group representing all affected parties to develop criteria for designating "commendable workplaces for youth." These criteria would be used by local groups to identify which employers would earn the designation and to determine which employers are eligible to employ young people in publicly supported school-related programs.


The regulatory standards developed decades ago to protect youth from hazardous work, excessive hours, and unsafe or unhealthy work environments do not reflect contemporary work hazards and the important changes in rates of school attendance and youth employment, particularly among 16-and 17-year-olds. Youth are currently subject to different standards depending on whether they work in the public or private sector, in small or big businesses, in different industries, and in businesses covered by state or federal laws. In particular, child labor and occupational health and safety standards for youngsters working in agriculture are far less protective than for all other industries, even with regard to the same hazards and the risks posed by long work hours.

Hours of Work

Current federal standards limit work during school weeks to 18 hours for youth under age 16. The Department of Labor is not authorized by law 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school, the historical reasons that justified the exemption of youngsters 16 and older from the hour limitations are no longer applicable. Furthermore, many studies have shown that long hours of work while in school can have adverse consequences. Although the definition of the term long differs across studies, most studies have used 20 hours per week (while school is in session) as the dividing line between "low-intensity" and "high-intensity" work. As noted above and detailed in Chapter 4, high-intensity work is

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