The Labor Department, in response to strong opposition from farm families, is revising its proposed rule restricting child labor on farms.
As part of a package of child labor reforms unveiled Sept. 2, 2011, Labor proposed narrowing the so-called parental exemption that allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or such person standing in the place of a parent.
The change, officials said at the time, reflects studies showing that children are significantly more likely to be killed while performing agricultural work than while working in all other industries combined.
Labor, however, has received thousands of responses from farm families protesting the proposed change.
Until the revised exemption is final, Labor will apply the parental exemption “to situations in which the parent or person standing in the place of a parent is a part owner of the farm, a partner in a partnership or an officer of a corporation that owns the farm if the ownership interest in the partnership or corporation is substantial.” This approach is consistent with guidance Labor has provided to the public for the past several years.
DOL will continue to consider feedback from the public, Congress and the Department of Agriculture on portions of the rule outside of the parental exemption before it is finalized, officials say. The re-proposed portion of the rule is expected to be published for public comment by early summer. The department will continue to review the comments received regarding the remaining portions of the proposed rule for inclusion in a final rule.