Labor Department Publishes Youth Employment Rules

Dec. 20, 2004
New employment rules promulgated by the U.S. Labor Department expand protections for youth working in restaurants and the roofing industry and those who drive for work, among other changes.

The rules, published Dec. 16 in the Federal Register, become effective in 60 days.

"These rules are part of the department's ongoing effort to promote positive, safe work experiences for young workers," U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said. "This follows upon our very successful 'Youth Rules!' public awareness campaign launched in May 2002 to educate teens, parents, educators, employers and the public about federal and state laws regarding young workers."

The rules incorporate into the regulations the provisions of two statutory amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act that deal with driving and the operation of compactors and balers by teenage employees.

The first statutory change established criteria permitting 16- and 17-year-olds to load, but not operate or unload, certain waste-material baling and compacting equipment. The second statutory change delineated what limited on-the-job driving may be performed by qualified 17-year-olds.

Provisions also are included to modernize the youth employment provisions regarding what types of cooking 14- and 15-year-olds are permitted to perform. The new rules now permit those minors to clean and maintain cooking devices in some situations.

The rules also expand the current prohibition against youth under age 18 working in roofing occupations to encompass all work on or about a roof, including work performed upon or in close proximity to a roof. Under the new provisions, youth may only perform such work if in an apprenticeship or student-learner program.

The final rule includes some recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in a report to the department in May 2002. The complete text of the rule is now available online at

The department also has revised existing compliance assistance materials to comport with these new rules. These materials may be found at

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