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Child Labor

Child Labor

In the AJP standards “minor” and “child” are used as synonyms. Standard 3.2 a – g. AJP defines children as under 18 years of age. In countries where young people can legally leave school at the age of 16, these standards would allow the full-time employment of 16-18 year olds if it can be documented that the children left school voluntarily.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), children of any age may work at any time in any job on a farm owned and operated by their parents. The Child Labor Provisions of FLSA apply to children working on farms that do not belong to their parents, including the children of crew leaders. The FLSA allows minors between the ages of 14-15 to work outside of school hours in jobs that are non-hazardous. Hazardous jobs include blasting, logging, crop dusting, using power saws, operating tractors with more than 20 PTO horsepower, using earth-moving machinery, operating machinery like cotton pickers or discs, working with sows or cows with newborns, working on ladders that are more than 20 feet high, driving buses or trucks, riding as a passenger on a tractor, working with bulls used for breeding, working in storage areas (silos, manure pits) and working with anhydrous ammonia.  With written parental consent, minors between the ages of 12-13 may work on a farm outside of school hours or my work on the same farm as their parents. Minors as young as 10 may can harvest short season crops outside of school hours for no more than 8 weeks, from June 1 to October 15, if the employer has obtained an advanced waiver from the Sec. of Labor.

AJP standards prohibit full time employment or any employment that interferes with schooling in accordance with national legislation, or the culturally appropriate educational needs of the children involved. AJP refers to the intent of children working on the farm outlined by the International Labour Organization: “Not all work that children undertake in agriculture is bad for them or would qualify as work to be eliminated under the ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 or the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention No. 182. Age-appropriate tasks that are of lower risk and do not interfere with a child’s schooling and leisure time, can be a normal part of growing up in a rural environment. Indeed, many types of work experience for children can be positive, providing them with practical and social skills for work as adults.”

Children and farm safety #

Note that children should be kept at a safe distance from tractors at all times. Contrary to popular custom, children should never ride tractors. Tractor accidents are the number one cause of death of children on farms.

Minors must not be given tasks that expose them to hazardous equipment or chemicals and other materials. They should not work at night, and the physical demands placed on them should be age and size appropriate. Their work should be carefully supervised.