DOL seeking more authority in crackdown on child labor violations

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL) has stepped up its enforcement of child labor law amid a concerning rise in child labor exploitation.

In fiscal year 2023, the DOL investigated 955 cases that resulted in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding child labor, a 14 percent increase from FY2022. The cases involved nearly 5,800 children illegally employed, an 88 percent increase since 2019.

The agency assessed more than $8 million in child labor civil penalties during FY23.

Many violations related to children who, while legal to work, were working too many hours or too late into the evening. But the sharpest rise was among children working in dangerous conditions, including meat processing plants and sawmills. Under the FLSA, it is illegal for anyone younger than 18 to work in a dangerous environment.

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