Punch the clock: How to properly navigate child labor laws

It began as an investigation into possible violations of child labor laws under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act – and led to more than $11,000 in fines and an enterprise-wide review of nearly 100 restaurant franchise locations across the Southeast. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s June 2022 investigation of a South Carolina Bojangles restaurant was a costly lesson for the fast-food franchisee that allowed several minors to work while school was in session.  

It’s also a high-profile example of how many small and medium-sized businesses struggle to properly navigate child labor laws – whether at fast-food joints, movie theaters, ice cream parlors, summer camps and more. 

The Spartanburg, S.C. case is no outlier. According to the federal Labor Department, an average of nearly 830 such cases were investigated annually over the past five years. Those child labor law investigations involved on average nearly 3,100 minors each year. 

Beyond the headlines, these chronic violations leave many business owners wondering: what can we do to avoid these costly mistakes?

The shifting landscape of child labor laws 

It’s no secret that owning a business comes with a staggering number of rules and regulations that carry hefty consequences when violated. Between strict labor laws, extensive compliance regulations based on your industry, and the ever-changing dynamics of the general workforce, ensuring adherence while still trying to operate a business is a challenge for even the most organized among us. 

This is where a certified professional employer organization (PEO) comes in. A PEO like Integrity Employee Leasing specializes in comprehensive HR solutions for small and mid-size businesses. PEOs can provide guidance on a multitude of compliance regulations, including child labor laws. 

Upon joining the Integrity family, new clients are provided with up-to-date labor law posters as well as additional information in a binder customized to the needs of that business. As highly knowledgeable experts on the ins and outs of labor law compliance, Integrity’s Human Resources Department has the ability to: 

  • help business owners and those involved in the hiring process on legal working times and appropriate jobs for minors; 
  • outline and interpret federal guidelines; 
  • aid employers in choosing the best route to take when it comes to employing minors at their establishment.  

Take the stress out of tracking time with SwipeClock 

A key factor in labor law compliance is accurately tracking employee time. To take the stress off the employer, Integrity Employee Leasing utilizes state-of-the-art software to effectively manage labor deployment and streamline the process.  

SwipeClock is a cloud-based technology that has the unique ability to cater to many different employment scenarios, whether tracking multiple employee shifts or reporting hours across varying facility locations.  

SwipeClock also includes an additional product that offers a robust scheduling system, allowing employers to create a personalized schedule to best accommodate the needs of the company and its employees, leading to improved labor law compliance. 

READ MORE: Streamline your business with SwipeClock 

Avoid costly labor law missteps with Integrity Employee Leasing 

In South Carolina, the Bojangles franchise described earlier agreed to take the following steps to ensure future compliance with federal child labor laws at its 93 total locations there and in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. 

  • Retrain all managers involved in hiring practices on legal working times and permissible jobs for minors, and ensure they understand terms associated with child labor laws; 
  • Add additional training for current and new employees outlining federal guidelines for the employment of minors; 
  • Display the child labor poster at all locations; 
  • Identify when 14- or 15-year-old workers clock in and out to ensure working times are following child labor requirements; 
  • Maintain documents that prove birth dates for all minors within the enterprise; 
  • Distribute pamphlets outlining child labor regulations to parents of underage workers. 

Juan Coria, a Department of Labor regional administrator, encapsulated how labor law compliance isn’t just a matter of right and wrong but also good for the bottom line.  

Employers who fail to ensure workers are safe and paid their full wages and benefits will find it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the people they need to be successful,” he said. “Employers who abide by the law will have a competitive advantage over those who do not.” 

When it comes to the stress of labor law compliance, call Integrity at (941) 625-0623 and let us take on your concerns. Our team of dedicated specialists will guide you through the process, leaving you to focus on managing your business the way you’ve always imagined.

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