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As employers ramp up the recruiting and hiring of youths for summer jobs, it’s a good time to remind you to be informed about your state, local and federal child labor laws.

The current labor shortages are expected to continue to plague U.S. businesses for years. As a result, employers have had to become creative to survive, reducing their hours, and adjusting their opening and closing times. Some people don’t want to work, while younger people are looking for jobs to earn money and obtain experience as they prepare to go to college or enter the workforce full time.

Not only are child labor law violations increasing nationwide, efforts to weaken existing protections for minor workers also are on the rise.

In February, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it had seen a 69 percent increase in youths employed illegally since 2018. The current maximum fine for violation of child labor laws is $15,138 per child.

In the past two years, at least 10 states have either proposed or passed laws that reduce protections for child labor, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

One of my clients who runs programs involving children recently asked me for the guidelines on child labor laws.

This is one of those situations in which you want to do your research in advance because you don’t want to injure children or find yourself in violation of child labor laws and possibly facing steep fines.

One of the largest food sanitation contractors in the U.S. paid $1.5 million in penalties in February after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division found the company had employed 102 children ages 13-17 to work with hazardous chemicals and dangerous equipment during overnight shifts at 13 meat processing facilities in eight states.

In October, a management company was fined $145,000 for more than 1,200 violations of Massachusetts child labor laws at 14 fast-food stores in the state.

“Companies that employ young workers have a responsibility to provide a safe and productive work environment,” then Attorney General Maura Healey said in a press release announcing the violations. “We are committed to protecting the rights of young workers in Massachusetts and ensuring that employers understand and comply with our labor laws.”

In 2020, a bakery, restaurant chain and fast-food chain also were cited and fined for child labor law violations in Massachusetts. The restaurant chain was cited $1.37 million in restitution and penalties for 13,253 child labor and other state wage and hour law violations.

Some examples of restrictions under Massachusetts child labor laws are:

Children under age 14 are not allowed to work, with some exceptions that include news carriers, farm work and entertainment, which requires a special permit.

Massachusetts regulations prohibit youths under age 16 to:

  • Operate, clean or repair power-driven machinery (except office machines or machines for retail, cleanup or kitchen work that isn’t otherwise prohibited).
  • Cook (except on electric or gas grills that don’t have open flames).
  • Operate fryolators, rotisseries, NEICO broilers or pressure cookers.
  • Operate, clean or repair power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers, processors, cutters and mixers.
  • Work in freezers or meat coolers.
  • Work in a manufacturing facility or occupation.
  • Work on or use ladders, scaffolds or their substitutes.
  • Work in brick or lumber yards.
  • Work in amusement places (such as pool or billiard rooms or bowling alleys).
  • Work in barber shops.

The regulations prohibit youths under age 18 to:

  • Drive a vehicle, forklift or work assist vehicle (except golf carts, in some circumstances).
  • Ride as a passenger on a forklift.
  • Operate, clean or repair power-driven meat slicers, grinders or choppers.
  • Operate, clean or repair power-driven bakery machines (except for certain countertop models and pizza dough rollers).
  • Work 30 feet or more above the ground or water.
  • Handle, serve or sell alcoholic beverages.
  • Use circular, chain or band saws; guillotine shears; wood chippers; or abrasive cutting discs.
  • Manufacture brick, tile or kindred products.
  • Manufacture or store explosives.
  • Work slaughtering, packing or processing meat and poultry.

Youths ages 14 and 15 are only permitted to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year and between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from July 1 through Labor Day. The maximum number of hours they can work when school is in session is 18 hours a week: three hours a day on school days; eight hours a day Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; and six days a week. The maximum hours they’re allowed to work when school isn’t in session is 40 hours a week: eight hours a day; six days a week.

Youths ages 16 and 17 can only work between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on nights not preceding a school day. There are exceptions for restaurants and racetracks, where they’re allowed to work from 6 a.m. to midnight on nights not preceding a school day. The maximum number of hours they’re permitted to work, whether or not school is in session, is 48 hours a week: nine hours a day, six days a week.

After 8 p.m., all minors must have direct supervision by an adult supervisor who is in the workplace, unless they work in a kiosk or at a stand in a common area of an enclosed shopping mall that has security from 8 p.m. until the mall closes.

More information on child labor laws in Massachusetts is available here at Mass.gov.

My advice is to look carefully at state, local and federal laws to be aware of the statutes and play by the rules. Know what roles your company has that could be filled by youths. Make sure you have all necessary permits and that the work hours comply with child labor laws. A long-term goal might be to hire the student full time after they graduate if it’s a good match for your business.

If you would like more information about child labor laws, contact me at Melody Beach Consulting Group at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.

Hiring a noncitizen takes planning, time 

The annual process for employers seeking to sponsor and hire workers who aren’t U.S. citizens is underway. If you want to sponsor noncitizen employees, you must be prepared.

When you have positions that can’t be filled by U.S. workers, such as specialty roles or for global operations, the government has established regulations that enable companies to hire noncitizens.

[Read more]

Does your business comply with the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law 33 years ago, remains an important piece of legislation employers need to understand to comply with its requirements.

The ADA is a federal civil rights law that bans discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Massachusetts has a state employment discrimination law, Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws.

[Read more]

50+ Job Seekers workshops

The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group’s workshops are free and virtual on Zoom, with some now in person.

The group has announced it’s back in-person with events the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the Natick Community-Senior Center in Natick and the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Worcester Senior Center in Worcester. Registrations for those workshops are limited to the first 20 people who sign up.

Remaining April and early May workshops are:

  • Monday, April 17, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Interview Practice with Ed Lawrence.

For good or bad, first impressions matter. When interviewing, you need to put your best foot forward and that takes practice.

  • Do you have an interview coming up?
  • Do you know how to respond to behavioral questions?
  • Do you need suggestions on how to address gaps in employment?

Join us for answers to your questions about interviews and learn how to respond to a variety of questions that may be presented to you in an interview.

Register here.

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2 to 3:30 p.m., in-person, Natick Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central St., Natick: STARR stories with Ed Lawrence.

Interviewers often ask candidates to display their potential value to the company by asking behavioral or competency-based questions. Most people reply with off-the-cuff answers or relate a story that is too long, too detailed and unstructured.

Many job seekers have learned to use the STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) method to answer those questions. But did you know there’s an additional R that makes your STAR story even more powerful?

Join us to review the STAR concept and learn about the next R and how to use it during interviews.

Why you need to know about this: Every interviewer will ask you how you applied your skills or worked effectively with a team and colleagues. Your chances of impressing an interviewer – and landing the role – rise dramatically when you employ the STARR method.

Registrations are limited to the first 20 people who sign up. Register here.

  • Wednesday, April 19, 2 to 3:30 p.m., in-person, Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence St., Worcester: STARR stories with me.

Registrations are limited to the first 20 people who sign up. Register here.

  • Thursday, April 20, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Savvy Seeker Series: “Background Checks: What are Employers Learning About You?”

Paul Cecala, certified Global Career Development facilitator, founder of Cecala Career Consultants and author of “Work Search Buddies: Finding a Job with a Little Help from a Friend,” will take an in-depth look at the many different ways employers are delving into candidates’ pasts to determine their suitability for the job. The interview is just one step. More information can be gathered from criminal records, internet searches and references.

  • What are employers learning about you?
  • What can you do to ensure they learn what you want?

These are just two of the questions that will be answered in this important presentation.

This event is being offered by Encore Boston Network and co-presented by 50+ Job Seekers in Massachusetts.

Register here.

  • Tuesday, April 25, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Interview Preparation … with me!

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to an interview! What do you do next? Prepare! And prepare. And prepare.  But how? Join us as we discuss all things interview-related, with an emphasis on what you should do before the interview.

Why you need to know about this: The interview is the landing that follows all the mental and physical gymnastics of your job search. Perfect the interview landing and your chance of landing the job goes way up.

Register here.

  • Tuesday, May 2, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: G2G (Give to Get).

G2G is an open forum for questions and answers, breakouts to discuss your job search questions, and time to network and connect with fellow 50+ job seekers. The names of all those attending will be put on the Wheel of Names. You might win a free coaching session!

Register here.

  • Tuesday, May 2, 2 to 3:30 p.m., in-person, Natick Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central St., Natick: Resumes with Ed Lawrence.

Join us as we discuss formatting, your professional summary and your experience section.

Formatting can affect your resume’s chance of being interpreted correctly by Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). The humans that read the resume want to see a clean-looking, professional document. Your professional resume is often the first view a company has of how you introduce and describe the skills you offer. Your resume is your primary marketing document. It must present the best you.

Registrations are limited to the first 20 people who sign up. Register here.

  • Wednesday, May 3, 2 to 3:30 p.m., in-person, Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence St., Worcester: Resumes with me!

Registrations are limited to the first 20 people who sign up. Register here.

  • Tuesday, May 9, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: “LinkedIn: The Recruiter’s Perspective”

Back by popular demand!

Join us as we present a different perspective to improving your resume. We won’t teach you directly how to write a LinkedIn profile. We’ll discuss what recruiters look for in your LinkedIn profile.

Why you need to attend this session: Most people who advise you on what to do with your LinkedIn profile aren’t LinkedIn experts, let alone hiring for positions.

This session will be facilitated by Ed Lawrence, a National Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE) who communicates regularly with recruiters to stay current with their methods.

Register here.

  • Wednesday, May 10, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: “The Stigma Trap – College-Educated, Experienced and Long-Term Unemployed.”

In Ofer Sharone’s new book, “The Stigma Trap,” Sharone explains how the stigma of unemployment can render past educational and professional achievements irrelevant, and how it leaves all American workers vulnerable to getting trapped in unemployment.

Join us as Sharone discusses unique approaches to support job seekers caught in this trap and offers ways to counteract the internalization of stigma.

Register here.

If you have questions about registration, contact 50plusjobseekersadmin@mcoaonline.com.

The virtual doors open 15 minutes before each program starts.

How to reach me

Contact me by downloading my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or emailing me at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.



Melody L. Beach Consulting Group
Proud Member of
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
PARWCC The Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches Woman in Business (WIB)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
BNI Referral Champions Worcester Chapter
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
50+ Job Seekers
Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of Central Massachusetts
Women's Information Network (WIN)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

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