Teens in the Workforce Bring Up Child Labor Law Questions 10/15/12
October 25, 2012
The workforce is getting younger in the Permian Basin, and its causing a concern for the Department of Labor.
With the lowest unemployment rates in the state many businesses are hurting for more employees.
This trend is now getting the attention of the work force commission as they search for ways to enforce child labor regulations.
“This is a job seeker market, anybody who can work will work and thats even includes 14 and 15 year olds,” said Willie Taylor with the Workforce Commission. He says with a booming economy competition for workers is heating up and many businesses are losing their employees to the oilfield industry.
“There are job opportunities of everyone in the Permian Basin right now,” he said.
he says more teenagers under the age of sixteen are lured by the competing wages.
“You got the young folks who want to buy cars, and clothes,” he said, “So they’re out there in the workforce population.”
But he says there are many laws that regulate the hours the teen works and even the machinery they are around.
“I would encourage everyone to be conscious of the child labor law especially on the school year,” he said.
For example the teens are restricted to only two hours a day. He says the U.S Labor Department regulates the law, but Taylor says with 12,000 employers in the Permian Basin, its difficult to oversee hours other than constantly checking the quarterly wages.
“Mom and pop type operations may not be very savvy on HR laws or even have an HR department,” he said.
Willie says many small businesses may not know the laws, or simply desperate enough to ignore them.
He says he will be sending out a mass letter reminding businesses of the laws. He is also going to bring this matter up in the next workforce commission meeting.
If an employer violates child labor laws in Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission asses a fee of up to $10,000 per violation. In addition to this penalty, employers may face misdemeanor charges.