By Joshua Foster
Child labor violations are steadily increasing in Massachusetts. Federal investigations under the U.S. Department of Labor showed there were 858 cases in 2019, a large increase from the 542 cases in 2015.
According to Massachusetts child labor laws, during the school year, minors are not allowed to work after 10 P.M. on school nights and after midnight on weekends. Minors are also only supposed to work 9 hours a day and no more than 48 hours a week.
“Working long hours can affect teens’ health, leading to exhaustion and stress that can open them up to injuries on the job and cause their schoolwork to suffer,” said Jenny Fernandez, youth program director at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, in an interview with the Boston Globe. “Especially if this is their first job, or their family is relying on their income, teens may not protest long hours for fear that they’ll get fired.”
According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Massachusetts family households that make less than $51,000 in annual income often rely on teens to help make about 20% of that income. Teen workers often don’t report these child labor violations because their families rely on the teen’s income.