Child Labor Laws

child labor laws in general

Child labor laws in the United States include numerous statutes and rules regulating the employment of minors. According to the United States Department of Labor, child labor laws affect those under the age of 12 in a variety of occupations.

In Georgia

Child Labor Laws

Minors under the age of 16 may work no more than:
  • 4 hours on a school day
  • 8 hours on a non school day
  • 40 hours during a non school week
Minors under the age of 16 may :
  • Not work before 6 a.m.
  • Not work after 9 p.m.
No minor under 16 years of age shall be permitted to work during the hours when public or private schools are in session unless said minor has completed senior high school or has been excused from attendance in school by a county or independent school system board of education in accordance with the general policies and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education.
Federal Work Hour Restrictions
Minors 14 and 15 years of age can work:
  • 3 hours on a school day
  • 8 hours on a non school day
  • 18 hours in a school week
  • 40 hours in a non school week
Minors 14 and 15 years of age may:
  • Not work before 7:00 a.m.
  • Not work after 7:00 p.m. (extended to 9:00 p.m. June 1 through Labor Day)
  • Not work during normal school hours

Child Labor Laws In Other Countries

Child Labor in Export Industries in China

In a November 1991 "circular" to various provinces and cities, the Chinese Ministry of Labor admitted that the situation regarding the employment of child laborers was "very serious" throughout the country. The circular apparently stated that exploiting child laborers has become a common phenomenon. For example, in some coastal areas and special economic zones, such as Fujian and Guangdong, as well as Zhejiang, Sichuan, and Hubei, there are reported to be four to five million child laborers under the age of 16. Child laborers under 12 years of age are also found in Whenzhou and in some areas of Guangdong and Hainan. The circular said that children usually work 10 to 14 hours a day, but their wages are just about half of adult workers.Much of the evidence of child labor in China is derived from data from the large special economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China. Children between the ages of 10 to 16 are reportedly working up to 14 hours a day in factories in Shenzhen. According to an article in the Jakarta Post in 1988, the China Daily reported on August 4, 1988 that girls work between 13 to 14 hours a day from 7 a.m.- 10 p.m. with two one-hour breaks. The China Daily reported that after first paying for housing, electricity, water, and training, workers have little money leftover. According to the China Youth News, conditions for children can be "extremely bad." The China Youth News said that 44 of the 206 foreign-owned companies or joint ventures in Shenzhen employ children under 16 years of age. In a recent report, the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) affirmed that, at least in large urban factories, underage employment does not occur on a mass basis, but violations of minimum age standards occur more commonly in sub-contracting factories producing for export. According to AAFLI, China has had an explosion of production for export in non-urban areas, both in rural and township communities due, to a recent boom in the economy.A review of current literature suggests that child labor is found in the export of fireworks, garment/textiles, and toys. Although allegations exist of child labor in Chinese electronics, handicrafts (artificial flowers), and gun factories, these allegations have not been documented.

Child Labor Laws In Africa

Positive Forms of Child Labor

Before further discussion of the more heinous forms of child labor, it is important to define how most Africans feel about working children. The New Encyclopedia of Africa provides the following definition of child labor: The term "child labor" is usually defined as harmful work performed by children, but it is frequently extended to include to any illegitimate employment, whether or not it is harmful. The term implies that childhood is a time for leisure and school, when strenuous work is inappropriate. However, it goes on to say that "many African societies, however, see children as gaining rights and taking on responsibilities, including work, as they grow. In this view, the labor of children is something positive for the children and for their families and communities". Statistics alone guarantee that child labor is a necessity in Africa. For instance, a 1990 report revealed that in Ghana, thirty-three percent of average household income is generated by children. This is related to the fact that as of 2004, over fifty percent of Africans were under the age of eighteen, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic is in large part responsible. Orphaned children have no recourse but to work, many of them trying to provide for younger siblings. Childhood is no longer "a time for leisure," for these orphaned children, and education is of secondary importance to survival. This work can range from "child-minding," the care of younger siblings, to forced forms of labor like cocoa farming in Ivory Coast. In some instances, child labor can even work hand-in-hand with education to benefit African children. The New Encyclopedia of Africa states that "many children earn money for schooling through employment, which can therefore benefit education under appropriate conditions".

The Dark Side of Child Labor

Any form of child labor has the potential to interfere with the education of a child. Some jobs simply monopolize time that could be spent learning; while other jobs forcibly prevent children from attaining an education by taking them away from areas in which they could attend school. Since education would provide these children with the ability to perform more skilled work, not allowing them to attend school keeps them in a cycle of having to rely on forms of labor which are low-paying and exhausting. A lack of education is one of the minor consequences of child labor, however, when the discussion shifts away from voluntary labor to enslavement.

In especially impoverished areas, children are at risk of being kidnapped and trafficked to different countries as sources of labor. Homeless children are easy targets for kidnappers, so impoverished countries with high rates of orphaned children are the most affected. West Africa tends to be where this problem is most prevalent, in countries such as Nigeria, Mali, and Benin.Some of these kidnapped children are forced to join armies, and many of the girls are sold into sex slavery or forced to become child brides. Other kidnapped children are sent to work on farms, especially in Ivory Coast where the booming cocoa industry relies heavily on cheap sources of labor.