Should we take another look at child labor laws?

December 21 – A fast food franchise in Pittsburgh got hit hard with child labor law violations a few weeks ago – to the tune of almost $60,000 in fines. 

A federal investigation discovered more than 100 teenagers in 13 different restaurants apparently were scheduled to work too many hours or shifts that went too late in the evening. These kids were 14- and 15-year-olds. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM wondered, “Is it time now to start changing up the Child Labor Laws? Are they arcane? Because, frankly, if these kids aren’t staring at their phone, that’s not a bad place for them to work. It’s not a bad place for them to get a work ethic. Scrub a toilet or make a burger for me.”

All of this falls under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I think we do need to update these laws. Some of this stuff is so outdated.” 

The current law says anyone under 16 cannot work more than three hours a day or after 7 p.m. on a school day. They are limited to eight hours per day on non-school days. They can work no more than 18 hours per week. 

Barkdoll said, “Some of the exemptions, for example, are for newspaper carriers. Well we know in this world today, I don’t know of any kids that deliver the newspaper. That used to be a big thing when we were kids.” 

Farm labor and child actors also have some carve outs as well. 

Barkdoll said, “That whole category really needs to be examined and updated.”