School’s out for summer: Employing minors can be complex

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With the school year coming to a close in the next few weeks, many students will be looking for employment on farms to do a variety of tasks ranging from baling hay to milking cows to operating machinery.
Are all students allowed to operate machinery, handle livestock, apply chemicals, or work unlimited hours? For the most part, the answer is no to all of these.
Responsibility. As an employer, it is your responsibility to understand the laws and regulations pertaining to the employment of minors.
The Ohio Revised Code, Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Secretary of Labor all have rules and regulations in place for the protection of minors.
The next few paragraphs will provide you with an overview of the regulations and references for additional information.
The employment of minors under 16 is subject to federal requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the agriculture requirements are less than those for many other industries.
In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined certain jobs in agriculture are hazardous to children less than 16.
Exemptions. However, like many other federal regulations, there are exemptions.
These include the employment of children less than 16 when employed on farms owned or operated by their parents or guardians and those who have completed an approved tractor and machinery certification course.
In addition to federal hazardous occupation regulations, there are also state regulations.
For most Ohio laws, a person under 18 is considered a minor and the Ohio Revised Code prohibits minors from working in certain hazardous jobs related to agriculture.
The Ohio list of hazardous occupations is the same as the federal list, but the Ohio code sections and related regulations say the Ohio hazardous occupation list applies to those under 16.
There are many sections of the Ohio Revised Code concerned with the employment of minors that do not apply to minors employed on farms.
These include obtaining an age and schooling certificate (unless you employ children of migrant workers); keeping a list of minor employees; and paying the minimum wage.
Hazardous jobs. Although it would be easier to list the non-hazardous jobs in agriculture, below is a list of those jobs declared hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Because of space limitations, the full details of each hazardous occupation can not be provided here.
See a copy of the Ohio Farm Labor Handbook for complete details.
Jobs designated as hazardous to youth under 16 years old include:

About the Author

(Chris Zoller is an agricultural extension educator in Tuscarawas County and a member of the OSU Extension DairyExcel team.) More Stories by Chris Zoller

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