Conflicting Federal, State, and Local Laws
Teachers assigned to coordinate work-based learning (WBL) experiences must be familiar with local, state, and federal labor codes related to student employment. In most cases, federal laws establish the minimum standards, while state and local rules set additional restrictions. However, there are topics where local, state, and federal laws have conflicting laws on the same topic.
When a conflict occurs, as a general rule, follow the regulation that sets the
strictest standard for protecting a child’s safety, welfare, and well-being.
See if you can identify the strictest standard in the example below.
Texas Labor Laws
At the state level, the Texas Labor Code contains laws related to the employment of minors. The Texas Labor Code, like the Texas Education Code, is available online on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
The Texas Labor Code defines a child as any individual under the age of 18 years.
The chapter in the Texas Labor Code that is most relevant to WBL is Chapter 51: Employment of Children (in Title 2. Protection of Laborers, Subtitle B. Restrictions on Labor). The purpose of the chapter is to ensure that a child is never employed in an occupation or manner that is detrimental to the child's safety, health, or well-being.
The Texas Workforce Commission is the state agency responsible for providing clarification and guidance on state labor laws. While Texas child labor laws generally mirror federal laws, there are some exceptions where Texas law imposes additional restrictions on the types and hours of employment for minors.
The Texas Workforce Commission produced a poster called Texas Child Labor Laws, which is a helpful resource for teachers.
You may also want to download the Texas Child Labor Laws poster.
U.S. Department of Labor
- promoting the welfare of wage earners;
- improving working conditions;
- advancing opportunities for profitable employment; and
- assuring work-related benefits and rights.
DOL is the only federal agency that monitors child labor and enforces child labor laws.
While the DOL has many departments and divisions, the following divisions are the primary divisions that enforce laws regarding worker safety and health:
- Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
Wage and Hour Division
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
DOL’s WHD is responsible for enforcing the most sweeping federal law restricting the employment and abuse of child workers: the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Click each phrase below to find out more about the FLSA.
To keep up to date on FLSA child labor laws and regulations, teachers should download and print current fact sheets and bulletins at the beginning of every semester. Two of the most useful resources for instructors coordinating work-based learning experiences are
- Child Labor Bulletin 101, and
- Child Labor Bulletin 102.
The next screens provide an overview of these two bulletins.
Child Labor Bulletin 101: Nonagricultural Occupations
- Children covered and exempted by the FLSA youth provisions
- Minimum age and wage standards
- Hazardous nonagricultural occupations in which youth under 18 cannot be employed
- Wage-hour laws that apply to minors employed in nonagricultural occupations
Click each phrase below to find out about FLSA child labor regulations for nonagricultural employment.
The federal child labor provisions do not apply to children in the following situations:
- Children 16 and 17 years of age employed by their parents in occupations other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor
- Children under 16 years of age employed by their parents in occupations other than manufacturing or mining, or occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor
- Children employed as actors or performers in motion pictures, theatrical, radio, or television productions
- Children engaged in the delivery of newspapers to the consumer
- Homeworkers engaged in the making of wreaths composed principally of natural holly, pine, cedar, or other evergreens (including the harvesting of the evergreens)
Take a moment to download or bookmark Child Labor Bulletin 101 for later reference.
Child Labor Bulletin 102: Agricultural Occupations
Child Labor Bulletin 102 (WH-1295) is a guide to the provisions of the FLSA that apply to minors employed in agricultural occupations.
FLSA defines an agricultural occupation as one performed by
a farmer or on a farm in conjunction with farming operations.
Key provisions in Child Labor Bulletin 102 regarding children working in agricultural occupations include the following:
- If a child is 14 or 15 years old, he or she may work outside school hours in agricultural jobs that have not been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
(Remember that TEA requires students to be at least 16 to participate in a WBL experience.)
- A youth who is 16 years or older may work in any farm job at any time as long as employers follow the wage, hour, and hazardous occupation rules contained in Child Labor Bulletin 102 (WH-1295).
- Children of any age may work in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents.