Labor Department Publishes New Guidance on Child Labor Civil Money Penalty Assessments




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Imagine your supervisor permits a 14-year-old employee to clock out at 7:15 p.m. during a school night on one occasion. Under the new U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) penalty assessment scheme, this could result in over a $15,000 fine to the employer.

Since 2019, the WHD uncovered an eighty-eight percent increase in minors being employed in violation of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As a result, the WHD published Field Assistant Bulletin 2023-4, providing for an enhanced penalty construct.

The WHD explains that when assessing Child Labor Civil Money Penalties (“CMP”) for non-serious injury and non-injury violations, the WHD will no longer determine CMPs on a per-child basis. Instead, the agency will assess CMPs per violation.

In calculating the initial CMP amount, the WHD will utilize the statutory maximum, currently $15,138, for each violation and then increase or decrease the assessed amount based on certain aggravating or mitigating factors.

The bottom line is child labor law violations are entirely avoidable. In light of this new change to penalty assessments and the WHD’s increased enforcement initiatives, employers must take steps to ensure compliance with the FLSA or otherwise face substantial fines. If you have any questions on child labor law compliance, please call a Troester Sharpe attorney.

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