Child Labor

The Economic Policy Institute’s child labor research examines the role of strong labor standards in ensuring equal economic and educational opportunity for all children. Our work, including ground-breaking research, thought leadership, and advocacy, is focused on assessing the strengths or weaknesses of existing state and federal child labor policies, documenting ongoing coordinated attacks on protections for young workers, and proposing reforms to advance children’s rights to safe, age-appropriate work and fair compensation. As part of this agenda, EPI works in close coordination with partners in the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) and in national child labor coalitions, provides expert analysis to the media and other stakeholders, and seeks to raise awareness through public events.

Child labor remains a key state legislative issue in 2024

State lawmakers must seize opportunities to strengthen standards, resist ongoing attacks on child labor laws Read the Blog

Figure A

Twenty-nine states have introduced bills to weaken child labor protections since 2021: Map of state legislation rolling back child labor protections, 2021–2024

State Bill status Bill status indicator Select bill supporters Work permit details Work permit indicator Hours Hours indicator Alcohol Service Alcohol service indicator Hazardous work Hazardous work indicator Subminimum wage Subminimum wage indicator Other Other indicator
Alabama Enacted* 5 SB 53 (2024): Eliminates work permit requirement for 14-15 year-olds — introduced 1 HB 176 (2022): Lowers age to serve alcohol from 21 to 18 3
Alaska
Arizona Failed 1 HB 2727 (2021): Establishes a subminimum wage of $8.50 for student employees — failed 5
Arkansas Enacted 5 HB 1410 (2023): Drafted by the Foundation for Government Accountability HB 1410 (2023): Eliminates age verification and parent/guardian permission requirements  1
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Washington D.C.
Florida Pending 4 HB 49 (2024): Drafted by the Foundation for Government Accountability; SB 460 (2024): Drafted by the Associated Builders and Contractors and Florida Home Builders Association HB 49/SB 1596 (2024): Eliminates hours restrictions for 16-17 year-olds during the school year — passed House 2 SB 460/HB 917 (2024): Expands hazardous work for 16-17 year-olds on or near roofs in violation of federal hazardous occupation order (amended out) — in committee 4
Georgia Pending 4 HB 501 (2023): Eliminates work permits — in committee 1 HB 501 (2023): Allows 14 year-olds to work in landscaping on grounds of factories and other prohibited workplaces — in committee 4
Hawaii
Idaho Mixed 3 S 1300 (2024): Repeals hours restrictions for minors under 16 — introduced 2 SD 1308 (2022): Lowers the minimum age to serve alcohol from 19 to 17 — failed S 1300 (2024): Repeals prohibition on hazardous work for children under 14 — introduced 4 S 1300 (2024): Repeals penalties for child labor violations — introduced 6
Illinois Mixed 3 SB 1996 (2023): Illinois Manufacturers’ Association; Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce HB 1258 (2023): Reduces hours per week but removes limit of 8 hours per day for minors under 16 — introduced 2 SB 1996 (2023): Expand manufacturing apprenticeships to 16-17 year-olds — passed Senate; HB 4285 (2023): Expands permitted work for minors under 16 in otherwise prohibited workplaces — in committee 4
Indiana Pending 4 SB 146 (2024): Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association SB 146 (2024): Increases maximum hours for minors under 16 in violation of federal law (amended out), lowers the age to serve alcohol, establishes employer civil immunity when a minor is injured or killed while employed in a work-based learning program (amended out) — passed Senate and House; HB 1093 (2024): Extends hours, allows night work for minors, eliminates all hours restrictions for 16-17 year-olds — passed House 2 SB 146 (2024): Lowers the age to serve alcohol from 19 to 18 — passed Senate and House 3 HB 1189 (2022): Allows exempted minors to work on farms during school hours — failed; SB 146 (2024): Establishes employer civil immunity when a minor is injured or killed while employed in a work-based learning program (amended out) — passed Senate and House; HB 1093 (2024): Eliminates hazardous work protections for 16-17 year-olds working on farms, allows exempted minors to work on farms during school hours — passed House 4 HB 1093 (2024): Establishes exemptions to child labor protections for performers, newspaper carriers, and homeworkers who make wreaths — passed House 6
Iowa Enacted* 5 SF 2190 (2022): Iowa Restaurant Association; HF 2198 (2022): Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce; SF 542 (2023): Americans for Prosperity, Home Builders Association of Iowa, Iowa National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association, Iowa Restaurant Association, Opportunity Solutions Project (Foundation for Government Accountability); HF 2056 (2024): Americans for Prosperity; SF 2109 (2024): Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Iowa Hotel & Lodging Association, Iowa Restaurant Association SF 542 (2023): Eliminates work permits — enacted 1 SF 542 (2023): Extends work hours — enacted 2 SF 542 (2023): Lowers age for alcohol service in restaurants — enacted 3 SF 1290 (2022): Allows minors to operate power-driven pizza dough rollers in violation of federal law — enacted; SF 542 (2023): Lifts restrictions on hazardous work, limits state agencies’ ability to impose penalties for future employer violations — enacted 4 HF 2198 (2022): Lowers minimum age of child care workers; increases staff-to-child ratios — enacted; HF 2305 (2024): Lowers minimum age in child care settings again — passed House; SF 2019 (2024): Allows 14 year-olds to drive up to 25 miles to work — in committee
Kansas
Kentucky Enacted* 5 HB 255 (2024): Foundation for Government Accountability HB 255 (2024): Eliminates all hours restrictions for 16-17 year-olds — passed House 2 HB 252 (2022): Lowers the age to serve alcohol from 20 to 18 — enacted HB 255 (2024): Allows minors under 16 to do hazardous work prohibited under federal law — passed House 4 SB 128 (2024): Allows nonprofits to hire 12-13 year-olds in “work programs” — in committee 6
Louisiana
Maine Failed 1 LD 559 (2023): Maine Tourism Association, Maine Chamber of Commerce LD 559 (2023): Extends work hours for some youth during the school year — failed 2 LD 1332 (2023): Establishes a youth subminimum wage — failed 5
Maryland
Massachusetts Pending 4 S 1168 (2023): Establishes a training wage for minors who work fewer than 20 hours per week
Michigan Enacted 5 HB 5696 and HB 5726 (2022): Lowers age to work at liquor stores; HB 4232 (2022): Lowers age to serve alcohol 3
Minnesota Mixed 3 SF 1102 (2023): Extends work hours — introduced 2 SF 3054 (2022): Increases the maximum alcohol by volume of alcoholic beverages served by an establishment employing minors — failed SF 375 (2023): Lifts restrictions on hazardous work — in committee; SF 3176 (2023): Lifts restrictions on hazardous work in long-term care settings — in committee; SF 3240 (2023): Lifts restrictions on hazardous work in construction — in committee 4
Mississippi
Missouri Pending 4 SB 175 (2023) and SB 1057 (2024): Drafted by Foundation for Government Accountability SB 175 (2023): Eliminates work permits — failed; SB 1057 / HB 2271 (2024): Eliminates work permits — in committee 1
Montana
Nebraska Pending 4 LB 15 (2023): Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Nebraska Grocery Industry Association  LB 15 (2023): Establishes youth subminimum wage — in committee 5
Nevada
New Hampshire Enacted* 5 SB 345 (2022): New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, New Hampshire Liquor Commission SB 345 (2022): Extends work hours; HB 1519 (2023): Extends work hours for minors when school is in session — in committee 2 SB 345 (2022): Lowers age to bus tables where alcohol is served — enacted 3 HB 57 (2023): Establishes a subminimum wage of $8 for minors for the first 6 months of employment — failed
New Jersey Enacted* 5 A 4222 (2022): New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Business and Industry Association A 4222 (2022): Extends work hours and increases time before break — enacted; S 1282/A 2474 (2022): Extends hours for 14-15 YOs to 11 pm between Memorial Day and October 1 — failed; S 494 (2024): Extends hours for 14-15 YOs to 11 pm between Memorial Day and October 1 — introduced 2
New Mexico Enacted 5 HB 255 (2021): Lowers the minimum age for alcohol service from 19 to 18 — enacted 3
New York Pending 4 A 1798 (2023): Allows 14-15 YOs in religious communities to do otherwise prohibited hazardous work under supervision by someone age 18 or older 4
North Carolina Enacted 5 HB 661 (2021): Lowers the minimum age beer and wine wholesalers from 21 to 18 — enacted 3
North Dakota
Ohio Enacted* 5 SB 30 (2023): Americans for Prosperity, Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce, Ohio NFIB, Ohio Restaurant Association SB 30 (2023): Extends work hours — passed Senate 2 SB 102 (2021): Lowers the minimum age for alcohol service from 19 to 18 — enacted 3
Oklahoma Pending 4 HB 3191 (2024): Allows 13.5 year-olds employed on farms to drive without a license — in committee
Oregon
Pennsylvania Introduced 2 HB 1392 (2023): Lowers age for employment in liquor imports/distribution from 18 to 16 — introduced HB 460 (2023): Lowers age for junior driver’s license to 15 so that young people can get to work — introduced 6
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota Failed 1 HB 1180 (2023): Extends work hours — failed 2
Tennessee Enacted 5 HB 1212 (2023): Allows 16-and 17-year-olds to work in establishments where over 25% of revenue comes from alcohol sales — enacted 3
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia Failed 1 HB 1669 (2023): Establishes a subminimum wage for minors — failed 5
Washington
West Virginia Enacted* 5 HB 5159/SB 559 (2024): Eliminates work permit requirement for 14-15 YOs — Passed House; in Senate committee 1 HB 2025 (2021): Lowers the minimum age for alcohol service from 18 to 16 — enacted 3 HB 5162 (2024): Expands hazardous work for 16-17 year-olds through youth apprenticeship program — in committee 4
Wisconsin Mixed 3 SB 436 (2023): Foundation for Government Accountability, Wisconsin NFIB, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Inc. AB 286 (2023): Tavern League of Wisconsin; SB 332 (2022): Wisconsin Grocers Association; Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Inc.; Wisconsin NFIB; Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions; Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association SB 436 (2023): Eliminates work permits for minors under 16 — passed Senate and Assembly 1 SB 332 (2022): Extends work hours — vetoed by Governor 2 AB 286 (2023): Allows 14 year-olds to serve alcohol — in committee 3
Wyoming

 

Note: "Enacted*" indicates that a state has enacted a bill, but other bills in that state have failed or are pending legislative action. "Mixed" indicates that a state has multiple bills at different stages of the legislative process, but none have been enacted. Map last updated February 23, 2024.

Source: EPI analysis of state legislative activity and news related to child labor legislation.

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Figure B

Fifteen states have proposed measures to address weak and outdated child labor laws in 2024 alone : Map of state legislation strengthening child labor protections, 2021–2024

State Bill status Bill status indicator Workers’ rights education Workers’ rights education indicator Child performers Child performers indicator Enforcement Enforcement indicator Hazardous work Hazardous work indicator Work hours Work hours indicator Subminimum wage Subminimum wage indicator
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona Introduced 2 HB 2564 (2024): Protects child performers, requires parents to set up trust in their name and deposit a share of earnings into it 2
Arkansas Enacted 5 SB 390 (2023): Increases penalties for child labor violations; extends statute of limitations for penalty assessment from 2 to 3 years — enacted 3
California Enacted* 5 AB 800 (2023): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — enacted 1 SB 764 (2023): Requires parents to set aside earnings for children featured in monetized social media videos, maintain records related to their earnings, and share them with the minor. Minors not properly compensated can enforce provisions in court — passed Senate 2 AB 1228 (2023): Bill would have established joint liability for fast food franchises but these provisions were amended before passage — enacted 3
Colorado Enacted* 5 HB 1196 (2023): Allows injured victims of illegal child labor to sue for damages — enacted; HB 1095 (2024): Increases penalties (and uses them for wage theft enforcement), allows aggrieved children to sue for damages, makes violations subject to open records requests — introduced 3
Connecticut
Delaware
Washington D.C.
Florida
Georgia Introduced 2 HB 838 (2024): Requires parents to set up a trust for child performers and deposit a share of earnings into it 2
Hawaii Introduced 2 SB 1607 (2023): Requires talent agencies and minors working in theatrical employment to receive training on sexual harassment and nutrition and eating disorders 2
Idaho
Illinois Enacted* 5 HB 4417 (2024): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — in committee 1 SB 1782 (2023): Requires parents to set aside earnings for children featured in monetized social media videos, allows child to take legal action if not properly compensated — enacted; SB 3180 (2024): Establishes maximum hours for child performers based on age — introduced 2 SB 3646 (2024): Creates the Child Labor Law Act of 2024, which adds provisions related to various aspects of state child labor laws; SB 3464 (2024): Makes immigration-related retaliation (including for reports of child labor law violations) illegal — introduced 3
Indiana
Iowa Pending 4 SF 2100 (2024): Makes illegally employed minors injured or killed at work eligible for extra worker’s comp, imposes $5000 civil penalty on employer — introduced; HF 2292 (2024): Makes employers strictly liable for injury or death of a minor in their employ — introduced 3
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland Pending 4 HB 160 (2024): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — in committee 1
Massachusetts
Michigan Pending 4 HB 4932 (2023): Eliminates waiver for night work among 16-17 year-olds; increases criminal penalties; allows victims to sue for damages; adds retaliation protections — in committee 3 HB 4932 (2023):Eliminates waiver for night work among 16-17 year-olds — in committee 5
Minnesota Introduced 2 SF 3496 (2024): Requires parents to set aside earnings for children featured in monetized social media videos. Minors not properly compensated can enforce provisions in court 2
Mississippi
Missouri Pending 4 HB 1998 (2024): Requires parents to set aside earnings for children featured in monetized social media videos, maintain records related to their earnings, and share them with the minor. Minors not properly compensated can enforce provisions in court — in committee 2 HB 1536 (2024): Restricts work hours for 16-17 year-olds — in committee 5
Montana Enacted 5 HB 112 (2023): Establishes criminal penalties for labor trafficking of a minor — enacted 3
Nebraska Pending 4 LB 827 (2024): Expanded workplace protections for child performers — in committee 2 LB 906 (2023): Increases penalties for child labor violations and broadens DOL power — in committee 3
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey Mixed 3 S 3717 (2023): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — failed 1 S 4067/A 5690 (2023): Eliminates exemptions that allow minors to be paid less than minimum wage, makes minors eligible for overtime — failed; A 2888 (2024): Eliminates exemptions that allow minors to be paid less than minimum wage, makes minors eligible for overtime — introduced 6
New Mexico
New York Mixed 3 A 8108 (2023): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — in committee 1 A 9235 (2022): Establishes new penalties for violations of oppressive agricultural child labor — failed 3 A 9235 (2022): Increases the minimum age for farm work from 12 to 16 years of age — failed 4
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio Pending 4 H 376 (2024): Requires parents to set aside earnings for children featured in monetized social media videos, maintain records related to their earnings, and share them with the minor. Minors not properly compensated can enforce provisions in court — in committee 2
Oklahoma
Oregon Pending 4 HB 4004 (2024): Allows labor commissioner to impose state penalties for child labor violations in addition to penalties imposed by US DOL for the same case — passed House
Pennsylvania Pending 4 HB 1354 (2023): Increases criminal penalties for first and repeat violations — passed House; HB 1714 (2023: Increases criminal penalties but requires reporting on violations and enforcement to ICE and HHS — in committee 3
Rhode Island Pending 4 H 7019 (2024): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — in committee 1 H 7172 (2024): Eliminates provision allowing some minors to be paid a subminimum wage — in committee 6
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas Enacted 5 HB 2459 (2023): Increases maximum penalty for child labor violations — enacted 3
Utah
Vermont
Virginia Mixed 3 HB 100 (2024): Increases civil penalties for child labor violations; sets minimum penalty — passed House 3 HB 876 (2022): Bans child labor on tobacco farms — failed 4
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Notes: "Enacted*" indicates that a state has enacted a bill, but other bills in that state have failed or are pending legislative action. "Mixed" indicates that a state has multiple bills at different stages of the legislative process, but none have been enacted. Map last updated February 21, 2024.

Source: EPI analysis of state legislative activity and news related to child labor legislation.

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