- Office of the Attorney General
- The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division
Media Contact for AG Campbell Convenes Community Leaders, Issues Guidance to Raise Awareness of Child, Migrant Child Workplace Protections
BOSTON — Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and representatives from the immigrant, education and business communities, gathered today to build public awareness surrounding workplace protections for migrant and other vulnerable children in Massachusetts and speak to the Office’s ongoing efforts to thwart poor working conditions and exploitation of youth and vulnerable communities.
“As a community, we must ensure our young people are working in safe and healthy environments,” said Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. “Whether it be for a summer job or year-round, younger workers – particularly those in low-income, immigrant communities and communities of color – are vulnerable to poorer working conditions and exploitation. The Attorney General’s Office cannot do this hard work alone, so I’m proud of the diverse partnership we have built to tackle this critical issue and build trust and relationships in the communities most impacted.”
AG Campbell’s Fair Labor Division enforces the laws that govern youth employment and works actively to prevent workplace violations. The child labor laws include restrictions on both the occupations in which minors may be employed, as well as the hours they may work. The laws also require employers to ensure that teens have proper work permits prior to beginning work and that employers post all minors’ work schedules in the workplace.
Within the past three years, the Office’s Fair Labor Division cited 127 employers for violating Massachusetts child labor laws, with penalties totaling almost over $1.3M. The violations included employment of minors without a work permit, allowing minors to work earlier or later than the permissible times, scheduling minors to work unsupervised past 8 p.m., and requiring them to work more hours than allowed by statute.
AG Campbell underscored the AGO’s commitment to ensuring that youth are working in safe and healthy conditions. The AGO is:
- Convening an internal Child Labor Working Group to identify investigation targets and novel approaches to overcoming enforcement challenges
- Meeting regularly with immigrant worker centers and advocates to share information about workplace trends and protection
- Holding clinics in and providing ‘know your rights’ education to vulnerable communities
- Distributing informational pamphlets and flyers to community groups and partners
- Partnering with educators and administrators across the Commonwealth to identify and intervene in cases of harmful working conditions and disseminating information to families and caretakers
- Working with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Retailers of Massachusetts Association and the Massachusetts Municipal Association to put information on child labor laws in their newsletters and spread awareness to their membership
- Providing translated materials regarding wage and hour laws, and child labor laws in 12 languages on the AGO website for public use.
- Supporting eligible workers requests for immigration relief, which can provide access to work authorization and protection from deportation
- Continuing the Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program, which provides grants to benefit youth workers by providing training and skills development in employment that is focused on health and wellness.
The AG’s Office has sent letters and informational materials to all state public school superintendents responsible for issuing work permits to minors, which are required under state law for most workers under the age of 18. Included is information about the child labor laws, a fact sheet in multiple languages to be distributed to all parents and guardians of high school students, and materials that specifically address the rights of immigrant workers and labor trafficking.
“Working in our school system, my colleagues and I have a front row seat to the issues affecting our young people. We know that working in unsafe, unhealthy conditions can often impact a young person’s studies, as well as their physical and mental well-being,” said Ruben Carmona, Executive Director of Family, Community and Employee Engagement, Salem Public Schools. “That is why I’m grateful that Attorney General Campbell and her office continue to be a resource on our child labor laws, so that we can better support these youth and address those that take advantage of them in the workplace.”
“It’s no secret that low-income, immigrant and non-English speaking youth are more likely to be the victims of child labor violations and trafficking,” said Gladys Vega, Executive Director, La Colaborativa. “At La Colaborativa, we’re working to change that by arming immigrants with the resources and skills they need to break cycles of exploitation. We’re so proud to do that work in partnership with Attorney General Campbell, and deeply appreciate her office’s intentionality in translating materials, making the office accessible, and collaborating with organizations like ours.”
“Child labor violations, where young people are made to work too late and too long, where they are made to do dangerous tasks that can result in serious injury, and where they are unfairly paid or treated, are having a serious impact on the lives and futures of our young people - especially immigrant minors,” said Liam Quinn, Youth Programs Director, MassCOSH. “So many of our young people are desperate for work in order to support themselves and their families, a situation which, in and of itself, represents the failure of our systems to invest in the lives and well-being of our youth. We’re proud to join Attorney General Campbell and her office in their efforts to stand up for Massachusetts’ young people and bring this issue to the forefront.”
AG Campbell was also joined today by representatives of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, all of whom, as noted above, have shared information with their respective members about child labor laws.
To ensure a safe and positive work experience for minors, the AG’s Office offers the following guidance:
- Minimum wage. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $15 an hour, therefore workers under 18 should be paid at least $15 an hour.
- Minors younger than 14 may not work. There are a few exceptions, such as babysitting, working as a news carrier, working on farms, or working in entertainment (with a special waiver).
- Work Permits. Workers under 18 years old need a new work permit for every job. The application for a work permit must be filled out by the parent or guardian, the minor, and employer and submitted to the school district where your child lives or attends school. Minors who are 14 or 15 also need a physician’s signature. For more information about work permits and to download an application, visit www.mass.gov/dols/youth.
- Hazardous Jobs. Teens under 18 years of age may not do certain kinds of dangerous work. For a list of prohibited tasks for minors 14-15 and 16-17 years old, please visit the Attorney General’s website at www.mass.gov/ago/youthemployment.
- Supervision. After 8 p.m., all workers under 18 must have the direct and immediate supervision of an adult supervisor who is located in the workplace and is reasonably accessible to the minor.
- Legal Work Hours for Minors. Massachusetts law controls how early and how late minors may work and how many hours they may work, based on their age. To determine the legal work hours for your student, please visit the AG’s website at www.mass.gov/ago/youthemployment.
- Immigration Status. All workers, irrespective of immigration status, are protected by the Commonwealth’s labor and employment laws.
- Labor Trafficking. It is a crime in Massachusetts to use threats of harm (including financial harm), to force someone to perform work. Anyone who forces another person to work in this way, or benefits as a result of the work, could face imprisonment and fines. Businesses that commit labor trafficking can be fined up to one million dollars.
The AG’s Office continues to hold companies who fail to adhere to state child labor statutes accountable. Last month, the AG’s Office cited two Dunkin’ franchisees for numerous child labor violations. In February, the AG’s Office also cited a Georgia-based lifeguard services company for several workers’ rights violations, including failing to obtain work permits for minor employees.
Anyone with questions about these laws or who believes a young person’s rights may have been violated is encouraged to visit www.mass.gov/ago/youthemployment or contact the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.