Judy Ledet
May 14, 2007
Jill Lyons
May 16, 2007
Judy Ledet
May 14, 2007
Jill Lyons
May 16, 2007

There are two certainties about summertime: The relative humidity rises almost unbearably high, and high-school age young people take on temporary jobs.

While nothing can be done about the moisture, the Louisiana Department of Labor (or Louisiana Works, which is the department’s new title) will do something about any employer who violates the state’s child labor laws.

Louisiana Minor Labor Law says that “[n]o minor under the age of 18 years shall be employed until the employer has procured and has on file an employment certificate for such minor issued by the city or parish superintendent of schools.”

A Louisiana Works news release states that child labor laws bar minors under 14 years of age from employment, except under certain circumstances.

Almost 43 percent of the 68,000 minor employment certificates given to14-17 year olds in 2006 in Louisiana were issued between May 1 and Aug. 31, according to the news release.

“During the summer, we see a larger number of teenage workers entering the job market,” said Louisiana Works Labor Programs Director Lonnie Rogers. “Even though school may not be in session, child labor laws still must be followed by both the young employees and those who hire them.

“We’re limited in staff, but we try to visit employers hiring minors,” Rogers said. “We do random visits.”

Local businesses are bringing in teenagers to handle the swell in customers occurring during the summer.

Waterland USA, the water park in Houma, has hired 70 teenagers under 18 years old for the park’s May 19 opening, said co-owner Sandra Diggs. She said the park has spent over $300,000 in improvements for the new season.

Dawn Matherne, owner/manager of the girls club Lizzy Tizzy in Houma, said she currently employs 11 teenagers under 18 years of age, and “probably will hire” four more for the summer.

Bayouland YMCA’s Aquatics Director Joey Hamner said he is signing on 20 teenagers under age 18 for the summer.

Also, First Baptist Church of Houma runs a nine-week summer camp from May 29 to July 27. Camp Director Zoe Robichaux said she will “take on 10 to 20 teenagers” to work at the camp.

In ensuring that 14-17 year olds are certified to work, Rogers praised the process the Louisiana Department of Labor uses to approve them for employment.

“It’s the first line of defense against minors being put in prohibited jobs, or jobs requiring them to work outside of allowed hours,” he said.

When hiring minors, “employers are required to file an Intent (or Intention) to Employ form-it’s an application for an employment certificate” he said. “It lists the duties the minor performs.”

“The minor needs a parent’s or guardian’s consent on the form,” he said. The 14-17 year olds bring (the form to the local) school board (or school superintendent) for an employment certificate.

The minor then takes the certificate to his or her prospective employer.

The Intention to Employ Minors form can be found online at

Rogers said he likes the fact that the forms are posted online because the department can now go to a database to see where kids are working.

The easier tracking of teenaged workers was especially handy following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The storm “caused an (outflow) of adult employees which made more positions open for minors,” Rogers said. “There was an increase in the number of minors in the workforce because of the storm.”

According to the news release, “For the one-year period following Hurricane Katrina, the number of (minor employment) certificates issued increased 22 percent from the previous 12-month period.”

Louisiana Works sends representatives throughout the state to help businesses manage the summer rise in teenage employment.

The department, “through its Labor Programs Division… offers seminars for business managers on the state’s child labor laws,” the release states.

“There is no charge for the presentation, which lasts about an hour and can be conducted at the place of business,” it says.

“We do this frequently now,” Rogers said. “Most employers have meetings with their managers. They ask us questions. It helps the employer stay in compliance with all the laws.”

On nights when there is no school the following day, the release states, “Fourteen- and 15 year olds can work as late as 9 p.m. Sixteen- and 17 year olds have no restrictions on how late they can work.

However, employers are reminded that all minors must have an 8-hour rest period between workdays.

“That law,” Rogers said, is mainly “for 24-hour restaurants, fast-food places. They don’t want to bring them back too early. It gives them a chance to rest.”

Although 16- and 17 year olds can work as late as needed during the summer, they can’t perform delivery work n not even pizza delivery.

The Louisiana Works “driving provisions mirror the (federal) Fair Labor Standards Act,” he said. “We allow 17 year olds to do some driving under certain conditions, but it can’t account for more than 20 percent of the work day.”

The Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce plans to start a four to six week program before summer 2008 for high school juniors and seniors that will teach them “basic work ethic, work skills, and customer service,” said Chamber President/CEO Kathy Benoit.

The chamber wanted to be able to offer the program this summer, but “it’s taken longer than we hoped to get (the program) off the ground,” Benoit said.

She said the chamber hopes to draw 100 teens to the program.

“It will be a certification program,” she said. “If they complete it, they will get a certificate to present to a potential employer.”

Benoit said she has already heard from one employer who told her that if a student has certification from the program, he would be more likely to hire that person first.