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Department of Labor Withdraws Proposed Child Labor Rule

Last week the U.S. Department of Labor announced the withdrawal of the proposed child labor rule relating to children under the age of 16 who work in agriculture and emphasized that the rule would not be revisited for the duration of the Obama administration.

The proposed rule garnered vast opposition from farm families and agricultural organizations because, if implemented, it would have prohibited children under 16 from engaging in many traditional farming activities.  The proposed rule redefined and limited the parental exemption and also abolished the student-learner exemption in many areas. 

With the withdrawal of the proposed new rule, child labor rules will remain unchanged.  Minors under the age of 16 still may not engage in agricultural hazardous occupations as currently defined including operation of a tractor with more than 20 horsepower or work on a ladder or scaffold over 20 feet.  The current definitions can be found in Department of Labor regulations and on the Department of Labor website.  Agricultural employers must continue to be cautious if employing minors under 18 to engage in any work in coordination with other farmers, such as packing another farmer's produce or sharing workers with another farmer.  These activities likely fall outside the definition of agriculture and subject to the stricter nonagricultural child labor laws.

© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 127
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About this Author

Kimberly A. Clarke, Varnum, Immigration Lawyer
Partner

Kim focuses her practice on immigration matters, including nonimmigrant petitions, both employment- and family-based permanent residence applications, expatriation and foreign visa issues. She has developed a strong background in the area of worker verification issues and managed clients through internal and agency Form I-9 audits, USICE compliance investigations and civil criminal charges.

In addition, Kim maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients and handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with...

616-336-6441
Kristiana M. Coutu, Varnum, Corporate and agriculture attorney
Counsel

Kristiana's practice focuses on serving the needs of the agriculture industry. She has experience in several areas of agricultural law including labor and employment matters, H-2A labor, taxation, succession planning and general business matters. Kristiana previously practiced as a certified public accountant and has over 20 years of experience in the agriculture industry, including agricultural lending and operating her family farm. ​​

269/553-3547
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