January 15, 2024

Growing Shifts in Child Labor Laws

The U.S. workforce has been experiencing a labor shortage over the last few years, with recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting 9.6 million open jobs. Many solutions have been proposed to address the growing labor shortage, from automation to increased wages, and even changing child labor laws.

From 2022-2023, several states passed or proposed bills to change child labor laws, with two states currently reviewing bills for 2024.

Arkansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa, and New Hampshire passed differing laws that varied in their stipulations, while Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia, South Dakota, and Wisconsin introduced bills that did not go into law.

The stipulation of these individual bills varied, with some states removing the need for work permits for children as young as 14, while Iowa allows children as young as 14 to work in meat coolers and industrial laundries.

While this trend has been slow in the last couple of years, it could very well continue into 2024 and beyond, especially as Florida and Wisconsin both have bills in motion.

Filed back in September of 2023, Florida House Bill 49 seeks to remove employee restrictions for minors aged 16 and 17, allowing them to work unlimited hours per day or week, including overnight shifts on school days.

This bill has entered various Subcommittees within the House throughout December, and with the Florida legislature reconvening, this bill could soon see more activity.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Assembly Bill 442 is currently active, with the intent to remove permit and parental requirements for children aged 14 and 15 to get jobs. This bill is of particular interest, as a similar bill passed the House and Senate in 2022, but was vetoed by the Governor.

The reappearance of a similar bill demonstrates persistence in this trend, warranting attention from workers’ comp stakeholders as the potential introduction of more minors into the workforce could impact injured worker populations down the road.


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