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'Parental Exemption' of Child Labor in Ag Rule to Be Re-Proposed

February 1, 2012
By: Meghan Pedersen, Pro Farmer Associate Editor

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it would re-propose the controversial "parental exemption" portion of its regulation on child labor in agriculture. Driving this move back to the drawing board was a strong response during the public comment period from farmers who opposed preventing children from working on family farms.

Going forward, the Labor Department says the re-proposal process "will seek comments and inputs as to how the department can comply with statutory requirements to protect children, while respecting rural traditions."

The re-proposed part of the rule will be published again for public comment early this summer, and the department will use these comments in developing the final rule. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis says her department will work closely with USDA to "ensure that our child labor in agriculture rule generally, and the parental exemption specifically, fully reflect input from rural communities."

The parental exemption in place today was developed in 1966 and "allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or such person standing in the place of a parent."

The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department decided to update its policy after studies showed children are "significantly more likely to be killed while performing agricultural work than while working in all other industries combined," according to the Labor Department.

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