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Friday, June 2, 2023

Child labor in USA: Two 10-year-olds found working at McDonald’s without pay

Two 10-year-old children were found working at a McDonald’s in Louisville, Kentucky, according to the US Department of Labour (DOL).

The DOL said that investigators from its Wage and Hour Division found that Bauer Food LLC, a Louisville-based operator of 10 McDonald’s locations, employed 24 minors under age 16 to work more than legally permitted hours, reports Xinhua news agency.

These children sometimes worked more hours a day or week than the law permits, whether or not school is in session.

The investigators also determined that two 10-year-old children were employed, but not paid, and sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m.

Below the minimum age for employment, they prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window, and operated a register, the findings indicated.

The Wage and Hour Division also learned that one of the two children was allowed to operate a deep fryer, a prohibited task for workers under 16 years old in the US.

“Too often, employers fail to follow the child labour laws that protect young workers,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett-Civils in Louisville, Kentucky, said in a statement.

“Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens, and deep fryers,” Garnett-Civils added.

In addition to Bauer Food LLC, the federal labour regulator also investigated Archways Richwood LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC.

The three franchisees operate 62 McDonald’s locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio.

The three franchisees were found to have employed 305 children to work more than the legally permitted hours and perform tasks prohibited by law for young workers.

In all, the investigations led to assessments of $212,754 in civil money penalties against the employers, according to the DOL.

“These reports are unacceptable,” Tiffanie Boyd, senior vice president and chief people officer at McDonald’s USA, responded in a statement.

“I know how important it is that every restaurant fosters a culture of safety,” Boyd said. “We are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws.”

The Wage and Hour Division found 688 minors employed illegally in hazardous occupations in fiscal 2022, the highest annual count since fiscal 2011, the DOL said.

Among those was a 15-year-old minor injured while using a deep fryer at a McDonald’s in Morristown, Tennessee, in June 2022.

Garnett-Civils said that they “are seeing an increase in federal child labour violations, including allowing minors to operate equipment or handle types of work that endangers them or employs them for more hours or later in the day than federal law allows”.

The rise in child labour came as some US states are moving to loosen child labour protections.

In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law in March to make it easier for children under 16 to get hired.

In Iowa, lawmakers in the state Senate passed a legislation in April that would permit 14- and 15-year-olds to work in freezers and meat coolers.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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