Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order allowing minors between the ages of 14 and 17 to volunteer with nonprofit groups aiding in post-Sandy reconstruction. Previously state labor law that prohibits minors from working on construction sites technically barred them from doing so, though the state was not cracking down on such work.
The order, signed Tuesday, would keep in place all other child labor safeguards, which bar minors from operating heavy machinery and power tools.
The order will remain in effect until the end of the calendar year.
“In the aftermath of Sandy, New Jerseyans of all ages came together to rebuild our state, including many minors working with charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity,” said Christie, in a statement. “This Executive Order allows minors to safely give back to their state and help their fellow citizens during their time of need.”
Last week, The Asbury Park Press reported FEMA had encountered similar legal concerns in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
The same state law that prohibits minors from coming within 30 feet of a construction site also prohibits them from working in mines or quarries. There is a stipulation for volunteering with nonprofits that build affordable housing, but no provision exists for disaster recovery.