New state law changes provisions related to employing minors

There are a number of benefits to having teenagers in the workforce, a couple of which are that it tends be cheaper for the employer than hiring adults, and it gives the teenagers some work experience and connections that could be valuable later in life. However, it is important to balance the needs of employers with the needs of the teenagers, who may still be in school. There are both federal and state laws in place that provide some basic guidelines for employers when it comes to teen employees.

Image Credit: Child Labor Laws by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Image Credit: Child Labor Laws by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act sets wage minimums, work hours and safety requirements for workers under the age of 18 who are working in jobs that are covered by the law. For information on the Fair Labor Standards Act as it applies to minors, click here.

IC 20-33-3 is the chapter of Indiana state law that traditionally covered employer limits on employing students. However, the part of the law where you will find these limitations has moved from Title 20 (Education) to Title 22 (Labor and Safety).

In the 2020 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly made a number of changes to Indiana’s laws related to employing students, only one of which was moving the teen labor laws to a different part of the code. A few of the additional changes are as follows:

The Bureau of Child Labor is now called the Bureau of Youth Employment. Work permits are no longer required for students who are not Indiana residents, or for home schooled students, or students enrolled in a career and technical education program. However, working hour restrictions still apply. Break requirements have been eliminated. Working hour restrictions for 16 and 17-year-old students are the same now. Work permit termination notices are no longer required to be sent to the school upon worker termination. Minors less than 16 years old may not work during school hours. Employers who employ at least five minors age 14 to 17 must register with the Indiana Department of Labor and a minor may not work in an establishment that is open to the public after 10 p.m. or before 6 a.m., unless another employee who is at least 18 years of age also works with the minor.

The Indiana Department of Labor has a summary  document available that describes some of the additional changes. To read about all the changes, review SEA 409 in its entirety.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia.

Duty to report child abuse

This blog article should be considered general information and should not be construed as legal advice. The article reflects Indiana law at the time the article was written, but may not include every detail or nuance and may not reflect the law in other jurisdictions. Additionally, laws frequently change. The reader should not act on the information contained in this article but rather should act on the advice of his/her own legal counsel or other appropriate professional.

Periodically, the Indiana State Library receives requests for information about whether library staff have an obligation to report suspected child abuse. This Q & A attempts to address the most common questions regarding this subject.

Image courtesy of Pixabay (https://pixabay.com).

Are library staff required to report suspected child abuse or neglect?
(See IC 31-33-5-1 through IC 31-33-5-4)
Yes, an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect is required to make a report to the Department of Child Services (DCS) or local law enforcement. Furthermore, if an individual is required to make a report in the individual’s capacity as a member of the staff of a public institution/agency, the individual is required to immediately notify the person in charge of the institution/agency (in this case, the library director) or must notify the library director’s designated agent. The library director, or the director’s designated agent, must make a report (or cause a report to be made) to DCS or local law enforcement. The staff person who personally observed the child who is suspected to be abused or neglected is only excused from making his/her own report if the staff person knows the director or the director’s designee made the report.

How should such reports be made? (See IC 31-33-5-4)
Reports must be made orally and immediately to either DCS or local law enforcement. Currently, DCS operates a hotline that is staffed 24-hours a day for the purpose of receiving such reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. The phone number is 1-800-800-5556. You could also call directly the local DCS office for the county in which your library is located.

Our library has a patron privacy policy. Doesn’t reporting suspected child abuse or neglect violate our patrons’ privacy?
The law always trumps local policy. Suspected child abuse and neglect must be reported. The library could consider amending the privacy policy to address that patron privacy is automatically waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Children fall and hurt themselves all the time, it is not unusual to see children come in with bumps, bruises and scratches. What signs should I be watching out for when making a determination to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect?
Click here for the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services guide on identifying risk factors. Click here for the Prevent Child Abuse Indiana list of signs to watch for with the various types of abuse and neglect. Click here for the laws defining what constitutes children in need of services. Also, feel free to contact your county DCS office for further guidance.

What if I am not sure if the child is being abused or neglected? (IC 31-9-2-101)
You don’t have to be sure. Actual knowledge is not required by the law, nor do you have to have a high level of certainty. If you have reason to believe a child may be abused or neglected, make the report and let DCS determine if the report is substantiated. “Reason to believe”, for the purpose of the child abuse and neglect reporting laws, means “evidence that, if presented to individuals of similar background and training, would cause the individuals to believe that a child was abused or neglected.”

Is the library or library staff at any risk of legal liability for reporting suspected abuse or neglect if the report is later found to be unsubstantiated by the Department of Child Services? (See IC 31-33-6-1 through IC 31-33-6-3)
Unless a report is made in bad faith, individuals who report suspected child abuse or neglect are immune from civil or criminal liability relating to their making the report. The law presumes a person making such a report was acting in good faith.

Are there consequences for not reporting suspected abuse or neglect?
(See IC 31-33-22-1 & IC 35-50-3-3)
Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

I am concerned about retaliation from the family I reported, should I be concerned?
(See IC 31-33-18-1; IC 31-33-18-2; IC 31-33-18-5)
The names of individuals who report suspected child abuse or neglect to DCS are not supposed to be divulged by DCS. Library employees are not required to inform the parents that a report was made to DCS about the parents’ child. The audio recordings of calls made to the child abuse hotline are confidential and may be released only upon court order. Additionally, according to the DCS website, people who make reports of suspected abuse or neglect to DCS may remain anonymous.

Update: As of July 1, 2017, the following changes have been made to the child abuse and neglect reporting laws:

  • Previously, reports of suspected child abuse or neglect were required to be made orally. Now, reports of suspected child abuse or neglect may be made in writing or verbally.
  • The law now prevents public institutions, agencies, schools and other entities from establishing a policy that restricts or delays the duty of an employee or individual to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect.
  • The law slightly modifies the reporting process when someone makes an “on the job” report as an employee of a public institution. Previously, the employee was required to notify the individual in charge and the individual in charge had an obligation to make the report. Now, the report must be made by the employee first, and then the employee must notify the individual in charge of the public institution, agency, school, etc.

Additional resource: Choosing the Best Inpatient Child Abuse and Addiction Recovery Center

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia at sywatson@library.IN.gov.