Labor Department Refused to Release Survey It Claimed Justified Rolling Back Child Labor Protections. We Obtained a Copy. 

Following is a statement from Debbie Berkowitz, worker health and safety program director with the National Employment Law Project:

“The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed rolling back child labor protections in the health care industry, claiming that its current policy is hindering apprenticeship and employment opportunities for young workers.

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“The proposed rule would hand over one of the most complex and hazardous jobs in nursing homes and hospitals to the youngest and most inexperienced workers—endangering both the young workers and patients. It would reverse a sensible, almost-decade-old Labor Department enforcement policy requiring that 16- and 17-year old health care workers be assisted and supervised by an adult employee when using power-driven hoisting equipment to lift and transfer patients with limited mobility.

“Nursing homes have the highest injury and illness rate of any industry.

“In order to support this proposal, the Labor Department cited a ‘survey’ of Massachusetts vocational programs that purportedly demonstrated that the current policy ‘restricts’ young teens from being hired to work in nursing homes. Although the Department has ignored repeated requests from Congress and advocates to provide the survey for public review and comment, NELP has obtained a copy.

“It became immediately clear why the Department wouldn’t produce the document. This seven-year-old survey, conducted using Survey Monkey, compiled responses from a scant 22 vocational programs in Massachusetts. Half the respondents did not even know what the policy was in the first instance.

“The same Labor Department that concealed and then lied about an unfavorable economic analysis regarding a tipped worker proposal, is once again hiding unfavorable data from the public in order to prevent meaningful commentary on the flimsy and dubious evidence it is using to support the current proposal.

“This survey provides no legal or factual basis for a change in the current policy, and NELP calls upon the Labor Department to withdraw this proposal.”

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