With the summer job search in full swing, many young people living outside Atlanta may be looking to work on a farm for the season. There are a number of regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act that apply to young farm workers that parents and children need to be aware of. Consulting an employment lawyer about these very complex regs before starting a farm job would be a very good idea.
First things first, though-if you’re over 16, these special rules don’t apply to you. Also, they don’t apply if the farm is owned by the children’s parents. Other exemptions include students enrolled in certain vocational agricultural programs or who are specially trained through 4-H (etc.) on some hazardous farm equipment.
Believe it or not, you are allowed to work on a farm at an age as low as 10….
People age 10 and 11 can hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than 8 weeks between June 1 and October 15 if their employers have obtained special waivers from the Secretary of Labor.
Children age 12 and 13 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs on farms that also employ their parent(s) or with written parental consent. Youths under 12 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs with parental consent, but only on farms where none of the employees are subject to the minimum wage requirements of the FLSA.
Youths aged 14 and 15 may work outside school hours in jobs not declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
The regs list a ton of “hazardous” farm jobs, and the problem is that, on a farm, a worker may get shifted from job to job without really knowing what is allowable under each circumstance. Some of the more hazardous jobs include operating large tractors and harvesting equipment, earthmoving and trenching, handling cattle, working in a silo, and handling dangerous chemicals.
Another problem will be comparing state laws to the federal regulations, since the more stringent of the two will always apply. Only an experienced employment lawyer can guide you through that particular jungle of governmental regulations.