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Rhode Island. Dept. of Labor (1935-1996) | State Archives Catalog

Name: Rhode Island. Dept. of Labor (1935-1996)

Historical Note:

The Department of Labor was established in 1935 by statutory authority in PL 1935, chapter 2250. Upon creation, the department assumed the responsibilities of the former Commissioner of Labor and the Superintendent of Industrial Statistics existing before that title. The department gradually evolved over the following decades to include a variety of divisions, boards, and advisory councils related to all fields of labor. The department was also responsible for conducting the state census, and keeping related statistics. The last census was taken in 1935/6 and the statute was repealed completely in 1985. In 1996 PL 226 renamed the department as the Department of Labor and Training (RIGL §42.16.1)

The Department began with three divisions, the Division of Labor Relations, the Division of Industrial Inspection, and the Division of Personnel.  In 1936 the Division of Women and Children was created under the Department per Chapter 2289 of the Public Laws of 1936.

The Division of Women and Children administered the regulations affecting the employment of women and minors:  The Minimum Wage Law, the Forty-Eight Hour Law, the Industrial Homework Law and the Child Labor Regulations.  The Division also acted as a clearinghouse for requests for information regarding the federal law, supervised the issuance of minor work permits by school departments throughout the state and processed complaints received regarding the enforcement of the Federal law (Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938).  The passage of RI Equal Pay Law in 1946 abolished wage differentials based on sex and Chapter 3420 established the state minimum wage in 1955.

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