NEW YORK – Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced new efforts to combat child labor violations and labor trafficking in New York State.
In light of a significant 68% increase in child labor violation reports in 2022 in New York State, Governor Hochul and the New York State Department of Labor are reinforcing their commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of young workers.
This follows the New York State Department of Labor’s recent campaign to educate young workers about their rights in the workplace. The New York State Department of Labor will also develop a new child labor task force, create an employer engagement program, and expand the Division of Business and Policy’s anti-trafficking work. immigrants to create a human trafficking response unit.
“We all have a moral responsibility to protect our children and fight against exploitative workplace practices,” Governor Hochul said. “For decades, New York State has led the nation in implementing protections against child labor, such as limiting work hours on school nights and establishing minimum wage standards for miners. With the recent increase in reports of child labor violations, these new measures will educate young workers about their rights in the workplace and hold employers accountable, creating safer workplaces for all New Yorkers.
Child Labor Working Group
Governor Hochul will launch a new Interagency Child Labor Task Force to work directly with local schools and municipalities to ensure that children, parents and employers are informed of their labor rights and responsibilities. workplace. This task force will be a collaborative effort with a variety of state-level partners, led by NYSDOL with participation from the New York State Police, the State Department of Education of New York (NYSED), from the New York Department of State’s Office for New Americans. , New York State Division of Human Rights, New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services of the State of New York. NYSDOL will coordinate with other task force agencies to increase enforcement capabilities.
Extensive public education campaign
NYSDOL will expand the digital public education campaign that began in January 2023 to highlight important information about labor trafficking, as well as additional information about young worker rights, including types of jobs that minors cannot do. NYSDOL will partner with NYSED to provide information on labor rights and labor trafficking to schools for distribution, in coordination with working materials.
NYSDOL will encourage employers in the hospitality, restaurant, fast food, and physically demanding industries, such as manufacturing, food processing, construction, agriculture, and landscaping, to educate their employees on labor rights and labor traffic signs. This will include encouraging employers to commit to protecting young workers+.
Worker Trafficking Response Unit
Labor trafficking, or forced labor, is the use of force, fraud or coercion to force a person to work against their will. It is estimated that more than 27 million people worldwide are exploited by human traffickers. Labor trafficking can affect adults and children from all walks of life, but a disproportionate number are minorities and people from marginalized and underserved communities.
Expanding New York State’s commitment to support and protect victims of human trafficking, NYSDOL is expanding to include a new Anti-Human Trafficking Unit within its Division of Cases and of immigration policy. The new Anti-Trafficking Unit includes worker-trafficking response personnel stationed in New York and Albany, and will ensure those most vulnerable to trafficking know the signs and resources available to them. help if they become victims.
Signs of labor trafficking include:
- Being told that you have to work to pay off a debt.
- Being promised a benefit like a green card or money that you don’t receive.
- Being told that your employer will keep your passport or employment contract.
- Being threatened that someone will call the police or immigration if you don’t work.
New Yorkers who believe they or someone they know may be a victim of labor trafficking should contact NYSDOL at 877-466-9757 or email traffic@labor .ny.gov. NYSDOL will never ask about a worker’s immigration status.
“The dramatic increase in violations of child labor laws and recent reports of widespread abuse are shocking and unacceptable,” said New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “We must protect our children from dangerous and predatory work environments. I commend Governor Hochul for addressing this issue by ensuring that our unsuspecting children are not exploited. The Office of the Department of the State of New York for New Americans is ready and will work tirelessly to ensure our children stay out of harm’s way.”
NYSDOL’s Employment and Workforce Solutions division includes a youth team to help young people enter the workforce. Guides for young New Yorkers are available online to educate them on what they need before completing applications.
The guides are divided by age 14-17 and 18-24 and cover important topics such as obtaining work documents, proper identification, preparing a CV, and more.
“Child labor is a human rights issue that robs children of their innocence, dignity and future,” said Maria Imperial, New York State Division Human Rights Commissioner . “It is imperative that we protect the rights of our most vulnerable New Yorkers and continue to promote a state where everyone can fulfill their potential.”
Here are some important tips for young workers and recruitment companies to remember:
- Workers between the ages of 14 and 17 need an employment certificate, also called work papers, to work in New York State.
- There are limits on the length of shifts, the time of day, and the number of hours minors can work depending on their age and whether school is in session.
- Minors are not allowed to work at night and have different restrictions than adults.
- Minimum wage laws apply to all workers (unless otherwise specified), including minors.
- Minors cannot perform certain tasks or occupations considered dangerous. These tasks and occupations are prohibited at the state and/or federal level.
For more information on labor and human trafficking, visit NYSDOL’s Human Trafficking web page.