DOL Re-Proposing Part of Child Labor Rule

In response to requests from Congressional Members and the public, including comments submitted by the NCC and other agricultural organizations, the Department of Labor is “re-proposing” the portion of their proposed child labor rule regarding the agricultural parental exemption.

Published: February 27, 2002
Updated: March 30, 2017

In response to requests from Congressional Members and the public, including comments submitted by the National Cotton Council and other agricultural organizations, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is "re-proposing" the portion of their proposed child labor rule regarding the agricultural parental exemption (see DOL release). The re-proposed rule should be published by early summer, and it will be open for public comment. The DOL will continue to review the comments received regarding the remaining portions of the proposed rule for inclusion in a final rule. No date has been set for finalizing the rest of the proposed rule.

On Sept. 2, '11, the DOL published and invited public comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its proposed child labor rule. The proposed rule sought to revise child labor regulations in agricultural and non-agricultural occupations, but perhaps most significantly the rule could have added new restrictions to the agricultural parent exemption, which allowed children under 15 to perform certain tasks on farms owned by their families. 

The proposal would implement recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as well as changes identified through the DOL's enforcement actions.

Joining together to criticize the proposal was a group of 72 agricultural organizations, which said the proposal "would significantly curtail the employment opportunities available to youth working in U.S. agriculture…" Their comments: 1) raise concerns about the Department's interpretation of the exemptions for children working for their parents and student learners; 2) oppose new and additional restrictions on tractor and other power driven machinery use by minors; 3) oppose the overly broad expansion of the Hazardous Occupation Orders (H.O.) relating to livestock, timber, construction, elevated surfaces, and work involving storage bins and silos; and 4) discourage the DOL from issuing a new agriculture H.O. that would limit exposure of young farm workers to extreme temperatures.

While it is unknown when the DOL will propose a final regulation, the NCC remains engaged and is monitoring the process.