Child Labor Laws


Mia Townsend, Editor in Chief

Child Labor laws were first introduced in the 1930s to ensure that children working in workforces are not being overworked in harm. The average age to have a job in the state of Tennessee is 16, however, it seems that these laws have been challenged amidst covid with a shortage of workers. Many employers have nearly abandoned these laws for the sake of business. This is legally seen as unethical and is likely to become a larger issue in the near future. Desperation for workers has only seemed to grow the larger the shortage goes on.

A student still in high school has spoken up on the issue but rather stays anonymous. When asked how their situation is, they said, “One day, it was a very busy day, so the store was a mess. Someone had to stay to help clean up but only minors were left who aren’t legally allowed to work after 10:00. I ended up staying past but I wasn’t going to clock out because I’m not going to work off the clock, which indeed has happened to me. I ended up staying an hour past when I was supposed to clock out.” This happens more often than you think.

Though this was a choice of the student, sometimes it isn’t and the manager is to blame. “I came in at 3:30 after school one day and was told that I had to leave at the time I was scheduled unless I got a break. Breaks are usually pretty rare when we’re busy, so I didn’t get one. We were so busy that I didn´t realize what time it was. When I told my manager that I had to clock out and go home, she became very upset with me. Despite knowing I hadn’t gotten a break that day and therefore had to clock out, she blamed my leaving on the fact that we were busy. Even though I was legally supposed to clock out, she made me stay until closing.” This is one prime example of how places are so short-handed that they resort to keeping a minor past their clock-out time on a school day.

When asked what the most they have worked in two weeks the student responded, “104 hours.” Despite this being over the summer, this is still a shocking amount of time. Due to the shortage, it was also common for minors to work overtime several times a month. “This was very common among us that went to school last year. We barely had workers so we had to pick up the slack with what we had. Last year, the most amount of hours I got during school was 80 hours. Another girl I worked with who was the same age as me at the time had gotten over 100 hours.”  Covid did a number too many jobs but hopefully now that it is dying down, workplaces will be held accountable for the actions they are starting to take and realize that their workers are still minors.