Child labor laws are changing in these states

Workers under 18 can work later in Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas.
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The persistent labor shortage is causing concern and stress for several governors, with some turning to minors to fill the gaps. From Iowa to New Hampshire, states have spent the last year introducing laws that allow under-18s to work later and longer hours. However, advocates have raised concerns about how these changes might expose young people to workplace risk or exploitation.

Ohio. In March, the Buckeye State proposed eliminating the 7pm work limit for 14 and 15 year olds during the school year, but would keep in place the maximum number of hours children are allowed to work per week. State Senator Tim Schaffer said he believes the new law would help businesses fill vacant positions, according to Axios.

Iowa. Children ages 16 and 17 in Iowa will be able to serve alcohol with a parent’s permission and also work longer hours. While supporters of the new rules claim children will have more earning opportunities, labor advocates believe the state is opening children up to potentially hazardous conditions. Dangerous jobs like roofing are still prohibited, but employers can make exceptions if the child is “participating in work-based learning or a school or employer-administered, work-related program,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Arkansas. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the Youth Hiring Act of 2023 in March. Children under 16 can now work without permission and age verification from the state, according to NPR. Child advocates believe these changes may increase exploitation of child workers.

Big picture. All these laws passed as the Department of Labor reported that child labor violations were up 69% since 2018, causing concern that children will be exploited. “The notion that you would put kids at risk in order to meet some claimed labor shortage is just preposterous,” Michael Hancock, a civil rights and employment attorney, told Axios.

Experts, like Debbie Berkowitz, a fellow at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor say that many of these kids aren’t gaining valuable skills. “A lot of the child labor jobs are menial jobs and those skills aren’t transferable,” she told the Washington Post.

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News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.