Why have there been so many child labor law safety violations over the past year or two? Answer: The historic shift in the nation’s workforce making it difficult to retain and recruit employees.
For example, in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 958,000 food and accommodation services workers left their positions.
The BLS expects an average of about 41,400 openings for food service managers each year from 2020 to 2030.
And inexperienced teen workers are filling the gap in the food service and other industries.
“Endangering any worker is inexcusable, but minor-aged employees can be more vulnerable because of their inexperience,” Steven Salazar, director of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, said. “Employers, parents, workers and teachers must all be familiar with federal child labor laws to ensure the well-being of young workers.”
15-year-olds operating automatic fryers
The most recent violation involves Georgia-based Encore Foods Inc., which has two Zaxby’s restaurant locations in the Lilburn and Grayson areas.
Encore allowed 15-year-old workers to operate automatic deep fryers a task the federal government considers too dangerous for minors under the age of 16 to undertake.
This type of violation seems to occur frequently, with teens being allowed to operate equipment – trash compactors, cardboard bailers and the like – that could cause serious injuries if operated incorrectly.
The company also allowed the same teens to work for longer hours than those permitted by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Those violations led to a $15,533 fine from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.