The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it will revise part of its controversial farm labor rule that aims to increase protections for youth workers.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division said it will be revising and re-proposing the portion of the rule that interprets "parental exemption." Originally, the rule allowed children of any age employed by a parent or legal guardian to perform any farm duty provided the farm was owned by the parent or guardian. Otherwise, children under the age of 18 would be prohibited from performing certain farm duties that are deemed hazardous, such as handling pesticides or working in storage bins.
However, the department agreed to revise the parental exemption portion after hearing months of opposition from farmers and members of Congress, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The revised parental exemption portion is expected to be completed and published for public comment by early summer. Meanwhile, the department will continue to seek public comments on the proposed labor rule.
Until rule is final, the Wage and Hour Division said it will apply the parental exemption to situations in which the parent or legal guardian is a part-owner of the farm, or part of a partnership or corporation that owns the farm, provided the ownership interest is substantial.