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

Four states have enacted child labor rollbacks so far in 2024: Thirty-one states have introduced bills to weaken child labor protections since 2021

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 — passed Senate and House 1 HB 176 (2022): Lowers age to serve alcohol from 21 to 18 — enacted 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 Introduced 2 SB 410 (2024): Allows 14-15 year-olds to work in certain industries, including manufacturing (in which they are currently prohibited from working) through paid internships, through which they can be paid a temporary subminimum wage — introduced 4 SB 410 (2024): Allows 14-15 year-olds in manufacturing internships to be paid 85% of minimum wage for the first 90 days — introduced 5
Delaware
Washington D.C.
Florida Enacted* 5 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): Allows employers to schedule 16-17 year-olds more than 6 days in a row and exempts home- and virtual-school students from child labor laws (provisions to remove curfew and schedule 16-17 year-olds for more than 8 hours per day and 30 hours per week during the school year were amended out) — enacted 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 (roofing provision amended out but bill still expands hazardous work in residential construction) — HB 917 was enacted 4
Georgia Failed 1 HB 501 (2023): Eliminates work permits — did not cross over in 2024 1 HB 501 (2023): Allows 14 year-olds to do hazardous work in landscaping on grounds of factories and other prohibited workplaces — did not cross over in 2024 4
Hawaii
Idaho Failed 1 S 1300 (2024): Repeals hours restrictions for minors under 16 — failed 2 SD 1308 (2022): Lowers the minimum age to serve alcohol from 19 to 17 — failed 3 S 1300 (2024): Repeals prohibition on hazardous work for children under 14 — failed 4 S 1300 (2024): Repeals penalties for child labor violations — failed 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): As introduced, would expand manufacturing apprenticeships to 16-17 year-olds, however all child labor provisions have been amended out — passed Senate; HB 4285 (2023): Expands permitted work for minors under 16 in otherwise prohibited workplaces — in committee 4
Indiana Enacted* 5 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) — enacted; HB 1093 (2024): Extends hours for minors 14-15 between June 1 and Labor Day and eliminates certain night work restrictions; Eliminates all hours restrictions for minors 16-17 — enacted 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) — enacted; HB 1093 (2024): Eliminates hazardous work protections for 16-17 year-olds working on farms — enacted 4 HB 1093 (2024): Establishes exemptions to child labor protections for certain FLSA-exempt occupations and expands exemptions for minors who work for their parents — enacted 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, failed in Senate; SF 2109 (2024): Allows 14 year-olds to drive up to 25 miles to work — passed Senate and House 6
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; failed 2 HB 252 (2022): Lowers the age to serve alcohol from 20 to 18 — enacted 3 HB 255 (2024): Allows minors under 16 to do hazardous work prohibited under federal law — passed House; failed 4 SB 128 (2024): Allows nonprofits to hire 12-13 year-olds in “work programs” — enacted 6
Louisiana Pending 4 SB 109 (2024): Repeals a law that mandates meal breaks for minors after five hours of work — passed House 6
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 — in committee 5 H 1852 (2023): Allows 12-13 year-olds to serve as youth soccer referees — in committee 6
Michigan Enacted* 5 HB 4063 (2021): Authorizes a homeschooled minor’s parent or guardian to issue a work permit — passed legislature, vetoed by governor; HB 5564 (2024): Authorizes a homeschooled minor’s parent or guardian to issue a work permit — introduced 1 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 3 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 5
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 — in committee 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 — in committee 4 S 1747 (2023): Allows 12-13 YOs to serve as youth sports referees without a work permit — passed Senate 6
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 — passed House 6
Oregon
Pennsylvania Introduced 2 HB 1392 (2023): Lowers age for employment in liquor imports/distribution from 18 to 16 — introduced; HB 2051 (2024): Allows 15 year-old justice-involved youth to work around alcohol at nonprofits in a “restaurant-based mentorship program” — introduced 3 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; failed in Senate 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 — enacted 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 — vetoed by the governor 1 SB 332 (2022): Extends work hours — vetoed by the governor 2 AB 286 (2023): Allows 14 year-olds to serve alcohol — failed 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 May 8, 2024.

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

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Figure B

Twenty 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 Pending 4 SB 119 (2024): Increases civil penalty for hazardous work violations and sets minimum penalty — passed Senate and House 3
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; AB 2961 (2024): Mandates sexual harassment training as a condition to receive a minor work permit — in committee; AB 2961 (2024): Mandates sexual harassment training as a condition to receive a minor work permit — in committee 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 pursue tort claim against employer — enacted; HB 1095 (2024): Increases penalties (and uses them for wage theft enforcement), makes aggrieved children eligible for damages, removes parental criminal liability, makes violations subject to open records requests — enacted 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): Strengthens work permit process,  updates hazardous occupations list, increases civil penalties — passed Senate; SB 3464 (2024): Makes immigration-related retaliation (including for reports of child labor law violations) illegal — passed Senate 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; SF 2390 (2024): Re-establishes youth work permits and increases civil penalties — in committee 3 SF 2390 (2024): Strengthens protections related to hazardous work — in committee 4
Kansas Pending 4 SB 559 (2024): Requires legislative review for rollback bills and requires that the secretary of labor provide a report to assist the legislature’s consideration of such bills — in committee 3
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland Pending 4 HB 160 (2024): Establishes Workplace Readiness Week to educate high school students about their workplace rights — withdrawn 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; HB 5594 (2024): Updates and strengthens minor work permit process — in committee 3 HB 4932 (2023): Eliminates waiver for night work among 16-17 year-olds — in committee 5
Minnesota Pending 4 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 SF 3852 (2024): Clarifies that penalties are per violation (not per child) and allows labor commissioner to determine penalties using factors like business size and history of violations — passed Senate and House 3 HF 4050 (2024): Eliminates provision allowing minors to be paid a subminimum wage — introduced 6
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 Enacted* 5 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 — enacted 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; A 9796 (2024): Requires the department of labor to provide a document on workplace rights to any minor seeking working papers — 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 Enacted 5 HB 4004 (2024): Increases maximum civil penalty; allows labor commissioner to impose state penalties for child labor violations in addition to penalties imposed by US DOL for the same case — enacted 3
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 Enacted* 5 SB 248 (2024): Limits hours for 14-15 year-olds to align with the FLSA. However, the bill does not align with federal law on agriculture work hours during the school day– enacted 4 SB 248 (2024): Aligns permitted occupations for minors 14 and under with federal law — enacted 5 HB 454 (2024): Eliminates a provision permitting a lower minimum wage for minors — failed 6
Vermont
Virginia Enacted* 5 HB 100 (2024): Increases civil penalties for child labor violations; sets minimum penalty — enacted 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 May 8, 2024.

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

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