Now that the school year has ended, you may have youth come to you looking for a summer job on your farm. They may be looking for employment on farms to do a variety of tasks, ranging from baling hay to milking cows or operating machinery.
Are all youth allowed to operate machinery, handle livestock, apply chemicals, or work unlimited hours?
For the most part, the answer is no to all of these. 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 employment of minors under 16 is subject to federal requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
However, like many other federal regulations, there are exemptions. These include the employment of children under 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.
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. Please see a copy of the Ohio Farm Labor Handbook for complete details.
Jobs designated as hazardous to youth under 16 include:
Under the federal regulations, minors under 16 may not be employed during school hours unless employed by their parent or guardian.
Unless provided a special exemption, minors are subject to the following restrictions:
No person under 16 is to be employed:
What records should I keep? The Federal Regulations require employers of minors under 16 to maintain and preserve records with the following information about each minor employee:
Keep in mind that minors employed by a parent or guardian are exempt from these record keeping requirements.
The Ohio Revised Code exempts agricultural employers from record keeping provisions related to minors. However, the Ohio Revised Code requires an agreement as to wages for work to be performed be made between the employer and a minor before employment begins.
For the protection of the employer, this agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties.
The state agency responsible for enforcement of the Ohio Code as it relates to prohibited jobs for minors is the Division of Minimum Wage, Prevailing Wage and Minors, Department of Industrial Relations. You may contact them at 614-644-2239.
The U.S. Department of Labor web site ( www.dol.gov ) also contains information of interest to employers.
It is your responsibility as the employer to make sure you follow the rules and keep your farm a safe place to work.
(This article was written from materials contained in Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 833, Ohio Farm Labor Handbook, written by Dr. Bernie Erven and Russell Coltman, The Ohio State University. Copies of the Ohio Farm Labor Handbook are available for purchase through your local county office of Ohio State University Extension)