Protecting Farmworkers From Child Labor

Children as young as 12 can legally work as farmworkers. Migrant Legal Aid has found children as young as 4 years old working in the blueberry fields in Michigan. The history of child labor in Michigan is deep, as seen in the ABC News exposé The Blueberry Children.

The transitory nature of migrant work is hard on children. Changing locations can disrupt their education; child farmworkers often attend three to five different schools per year as they migrate from farm to farm. It is difficult for these children to complete their education. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2017-18 National Agricultural Workers Survey, migrant farmworkers born outside the U.S. receive only up to a seventh-grade education on average, and less than one in five complete 12 years of school.

We help protect children’s futures by addressing child labor violations, discrimination, and other issues.

Agricultural Labor Law Exceptions Put Kids at Risk

While there are laws that set a minimum age for employment, there are exceptions to these rules. One of them is for children working in agriculture—and it can result in significant child labor issues.

With a parent’s permission, young children can work in the fields without restrictions on hours, except during the school day. In contrast, it is illegal for children to work more than 40 hours at any other occupation. And children working over 40 hours a week in agriculture are not entitled to overtime pay.

Blueberry Farming Giant Found Using Child Labor in Michigan Fields

Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company in South Haven, Michigan was found to use child labor. In this episode, Democracy Now! hosts investigate the scandal, and speak with Migrant Legal Aid Executive Director, Teresa Hendricks.

Migrant Legal Aid Supports Young Workers and Their Families

Migrant Legal Aid advocates for child workers by assisting families with school-related issues. These include enrolling children in school, transferring school credits, signing up for lunch programs, finding daycare, and providing school transportation. Migrant Legal Aid ensures that the migrant children and parents can access the available services without discrimination.

If you believe your labor rights have been violated or have questions about your options, don’t wait to contact Migrant Legal Aid for help.

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