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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses

- Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor

Work Experience and Career Exploration Program

The Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) offers exceptions to the child labor regulations that permit 14- and 15-year-olds to be employed in otherwise prohibited circumstances. WECEP is designed to provide a carefully planned work experience and career exploration program for students who can benefit from a career-oriented education. WECEP, among other things, is aimed at helping youths who are at risk for leaving school to become motivated to continue their education and to prepare them for the world of work.

WECEP permits the employment of 14- and 15-year-old youth during school hours and for up to 23 hours per week when school is in session. These rules are more lenient than those permitted by the Fair Labor Standards Act for other similar aged youth not enrolled in WECEP. WECEP also permits variances, on a limited basis, from certain child labor hazardous occupation standards. These variances are approved by the Wage and Hour Administrator on a case by case basis.

Any State Department of Education interested in participating in the program should submit an application to the Wage and Hour Administrator, U. S. Department of Labor, Room S3502, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Authorization to operate a WECEP is granted to the State, not individual school districts. The criteria used in consideration of applications are contained in the child labor regulations. A WECEP must include all the academic courses required by the State for graduation as well as instruction in job-related skills and career development.

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