Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor has seen a 69% increase of children being employed illegally by companies. Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced their increased focus on identifying, stopping, and preventing child labor exploitation throughout the United States. The agenda includes several new initiatives to investigate child labor violations, and the DOL identified one of the key efforts will be to “Hold All Employers Accountable” to ensure child labor is removed from supply chains. The initiative is particularly relevant to the manufacturing industry where children may be working overnight shifts and/or using dangerous machinery. On March 24, 2023, the DOL and DHHS announced a Memorandum of Agreement that formalized the partnership between the agencies and set forth the specific procedures the agencies will follow in pursuit of this initiative. The DOL is also calling on Congress to increase the civil monetary penalties for child labor violations, currently $15,138 per child.
In light of the above directives — and to take appropriate corporate responsibility — manufactures should be familiar with the below red flags that increase the risk of child labor in the supply chain.