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When are employment wages required?

Chelan, WA |

My nephew (16) is out of state at a boarding school, and he told me that his school asks the students to help repair their older buildings, and to help with the construction of a new building. These kids are not paid for their work. The school is a non-profit organization, and they insist that the students who are helping out are volunteering by their own will and learning valuable skills. While the school itself is non-profit, it does not own its campus or its buildings. Rather, the school rents the property from a private owner (connected to the school). Is there any employer/employee relationship? And if it does just fall under volunteering, is there a maximum amount of hours that children are allowed to volunteer in

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Are they "asked"? or "required"?

    The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs.

  2. This is a juvenile COURT criminal site. This is not a criminal issue. Also, you said they were asked to do this. Are they required to do this? Good Luck to you. Re post in the appropriate forum.

  3. If you believe this is a violation of wage and hour regulations of the state of Washington as well as violations of child labor laws I believe the first and most appropriate step would be to have your nephew document the hours the services were being performed on a calendar. Maybe even snap a few pictures if it can be done. If you called ME with this issue I would probably indicate that I would want to know a heck of alot more - similar to the questions another attorney has asked in order to figure out if this was truly volunteer (like what if he said "no"). There are several attorneys in your area you could consult with face to face on this, but if they are not interested a call to Washington Department of Labor Workplace Standards Division and a formal and documented complaint would probably trigger an investigation and if appropriate a fine and/or documentation that might ultimately cause some interest in the matter by attorneys in your area.

  4. I believe that you need to identify what state this is in, and if it is in Washington, I understand that in order for a school to consider this "volunteer" hours, they must show that the parent or guardian consented. Children under 18 are not permitted to contract. There are specific provisions for internships, and the school must apply for and obtain permission from the Dept. of Labor & Industries to qualify the hours as unpaid internship volunteer hours. As for volunteering and actually performing work that improves a premises, this sounds like construction and would further require apprenticeship approval for each trade. It is probably a bit more complicated than the school realizes.

    Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.

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