New York introduces youth workers Bill of Rights

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New York Construction News staff writer

New York’s first-ever Youth Workers Bill of Rights has been introduced to improve protections for the city’s youngest workers.

The New York State Department of Labor developed the Youth Workers Bill of Rights in partnership with the New York State Education Department and created a resource that details essential rights and protections for every youth worker, a year after Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would address a rise in child labor violations.

“Every worker in our state deserves a fair, safe work environment, especially our young people,” Governor Hochul said. “My administration is taking action to ensure that our youngest workers feel empowered, protected, and well-informed, and by fulfilling my State of the State commitment to creating our first-ever Youth Workers Bill of Rights, we are continuing to make strides toward making New York the safest and most worker-friendly state in the nation.”

Written in clear and accessible language, the Youth Workers Bill of Rights will educate first time workers as they prepare to enter the labor market by explaining the rights all NY workers enjoy as well as the protections that are specific to workers under 18. The Bill of Rights will be distributed to every young worker upon receiving their working papers. It will be available in various formats, including a print pocket guide available in schools and NYSDOL Career Centers for easy reference a downloadable poster for educators and administrative staff to hang in schools, and online for broad accessibility.

Key protections outlined include the right to:

  • The minimum wage
  • A safe and discrimination-free workplace
  • File a complaint without fear of retaliation

In 2023 the Protect Youth Workers Pledge for businesses was launched so that businesses could affirm they will always consider the safety and wellbeing of minors, report suspected child labor violations to the Child Labor Taskforce, and train employees on labor rights and signs of labor trafficking.

“This comprehensive document educates young people about their rights in the workplace and equips them with the knowledge and tools to address violations of their labor rights effectively,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “By outlining clear guidelines and standards, the Youth Workers Bill of Rights aims to empower young workers and raise awareness about their rights as valuable members of the workforce.”

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