In order to maximize the ability of the labor force to meet production demands of World War II, in 1941 Governor Herbert H. Lehman empowered the Industrial Commissioner to grant dispensations to allow a relaxation of labor laws. Limitations on longer hours, night shifts, or seven day weeks were suspended for six-month periods by the commissioner upon application from individual employers in manufacturing industries. In January 1942, the legislature passed a law (Chapter 4 of the Laws of 1942) approving the procedure and retroactively validated all decisions made prior to the law's passage. In 1943, the legislature expanded the law to include all essential civilian industries (Chapter 315 of the Laws of 1943) and a later amendment allowed for dispensation of labor laws for sixteen- and seventeen-year-old workers.
Cases involving dispensation for minors were handled by a special committee of the War Council comprised of two labor leaders, two industrialists, and one legislator--initially Assemblyman Irving M. Ives-- who chaired the committee. This special committee established and followed guidelines which limited minors to a 10-hour day and a 50-hour week, prohibited a seven-day week or work beyond midnight, and required a 30-minute lunch break. An on-site inspection of each business was completed before a dispensation would be granted, and approval was by no means guaranteed.
No changes permitted by the dispensations were made permanent, and on September 1, 1945, all concerning minors were terminated. On October 31, 1945, all other dispensations were abolished.