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AREA SUPERMARKET CHAINS SELF-ENFORCE RESTRICTIONS ON TEEN-AGE EMPLOYEES

Many of the largest employers of youths have taken rigorous measures on their own to assure their stores don't violate the law when employing minors.

Tops Markets Inc. four years ago began an intense training program for its personnel managers at each of its markets.

John S. Dobinski, Tops director of personnel, said the training about child labor laws is continuous in order to make new managers aware of the laws and to provide refresher courses for those who took earlier training.

Of Tops 15,000 employees, 1,500 are 16 and 17 years old. The supermarket chain has published a handbook given to each young employee which explains the child labor laws and tells them what they may or may not do. "You are not allowed to work in the Meat Department, the Deli Department . . . Don't even touch the bailing machine."

Dobinski said teen-agers are encouraged to take the handbooks home so their parents become aware of the law.

Wegmans Food Markets requires employees under 18 to wear colored tags -- hot pink for 15-year-olds, yellow for those 16 and 17 -- as reminders that their hours and work is restricted.

In addition, said Cheri Phillips, personnel representative at Wegmans on Alberta Drive in Amherst, the store chain's own regulations are stricter than the state's. Minors must quit work half an hour before they required by state law. Minimum wage is $4.50 an hour.

Signs are posted or painted on prohibited equipment warning that minors may not use.

"We have a computer program which locks out minors being scheduled during banned hours. In addition, we monitor their working ours daily," said Miss Phillips.

Burger King, America's second-biggest fast-food chain which last year paid a record $500,000 fine to settle charges of child labor law violations nationwide, has hired the National Child Labor Committee to help it assure its outlets follow the laws.

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