The maritime industry is a big deal for Alabama. Yes, the state only has a sliver of the Gulf Coast to call its own, but that does not stop it. Employers in the Alabama maritime industry know what I am talking about, and the government of the state of Alabama also knows. That is why they have put some money out there to support the Alabama maritime industry through an apprenticeship program. The name of the program is the High School Maritime Apprenticeship Program, and that about says it all.
Most of this opportunity orbits out of Mobile, the port and main waterway hub of the state. What the program offers employers and the students who want to learn from them are apprenticeship positions in the industry that could pay as much as $8 per hour. But the true bonus for everyone involved comes when and if the students complete the apprenticeship program and become 18 years old. Then they are offered a full time position in the state’s maritime industry, through one of the employers who partnered with the state—such as Atlantic Marine Inc., or Alabama Shipyard, Austal USA or Bender Shipbuilding and Repair, or C and G Boatworks.
What it does for every employer in the Alabama maritime industry, however, is provide a constant and steady stream of new talent into the industry, which is what any industry can ask for, whether it is a trade industry such as maritime or a technology industry such as IT or a health care industry for that matter such as nursing.
For example, the current Alabama maritime industry program is similar to another apprenticeship program started in the state for the automotive industry, which partners the state with Mercedes Benz USI. As an employer or as an interested student, you should contact the Mobile Chamber of Commerce Center for Workforce Development for more info.
For employers, being ignorant of child labor law in their state can have unpleasant consequences. Recently, a prominent Alabama employer pleaded guilty to 3 counts of violation of Alabama’s child labor laws. He had unknowingly allowed 3 underage employees to work until 9 p.m.
Employers need to be aware of the child labor law in their states. According to Jim Bennett, Alabama Commissioner of Labor, all minors under the age of 18 must have a work permit to be employed in Alabama. Youths ages 14 and 15 cannot work after 7 p.m. during the week, or more than 18 hours per week total. Youths ages 16, 17 and 18 who are enrolled in high school cannot work past 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. All of this information and more, is included on the child labor law poster.
Child labor laws vary greatly from state to state. In Alabama, for example, youths ages 14 and 15 can work no more than 18 hours per week during the school year. In Texas, youths aged 14 or 15 may work up to 48 hours per week during the school year.
Many states require that employers display a child labor law poster. Referring to the poster is a great way for employers and employees alike to get answers to their questions on child labor law. Subscribing to a poster service is the best way to assure that posters are always up to date. The posters are revised every year when child labor law changes. Each poster addresses a specific area of labor law. The posters prominently feature phone numbers employees can call if they believe their rights have been violated.
The child labor law poster ensures that employers are meeting federal and state regulations by having current posters on display in a conspicuous place at the job site. Both federal and state laws make various posters mandatory. To ensure that every employee sees them, a popular location is the employee break area. Sometimes the posters are displayed near the time clock or in another “employees only” area for maximum visibility. The posters inform employers and employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
In reviewing the current child labor laws, I learned that Alabama’s child labor law is similar to the federal law in many respects, while placing tighter restrictions on other aspects of minors’ work.
Alabama is one of a number of states that require a work permit for all workers under the age of 18. Teenagers who have graduated from high school or are married are not exempt – they must get a permit as well. Even the newspaper carrier needs a permit, and must carry it on his or her person while on the delivery route! Work permits can be obtained from the local board of education or the minor’s school. Several items are required of the minor who wishes to get a work permit, including proof of age, a statement from a parent, and a statement from his or her prospective employer.
The state law in Alabama regulating the work hours of 14 and 15 year olds is very similar to the federal child labor law. While school is in session, minors of this age may not work during school hours. They are allowed to work up to three hours per day on school days, but this work must be between the hours of 7am and 7pm. The total hours per week must not exceed 18. While school is not in session during the summer months, a 14 or 15 year old minor may work between 7am and 9pm. However, a minor of this age may still work no more than 40 hours per week during the summer months.
While federal law does not place any restrictions on the work hours of 16 and 17 year old minor employees, Alabama child labor law does place some restrictions. A 16 or 17 year old who is enrolled in a secondary school may not work earlier than 5am or later than 10pm on any night preceding a school day. No other restrictions are placed on the work hours of minors this age.
Finally, as in most other states, Alabama’s child labor law places restrictions on the types of jobs that minors may hold. Minors under the age of 16 may not be employed in any manufacturing environments, and are restricted in some aspects of they job duties in other environments – for example, they are very limited in the types of cooking they may perform. Any minor under the age of 18 is also prohibited from being employed in over two dozen hazardous environments, including mining, meatpacking, logging and roofing.
All child labor laws pertaining to Alabama can be found alongside the federal laws on the Alabama Complete Labor Law posters.