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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 16, 2019 01:17 PM
From: Representative David H. Zimmerman
To: All House members
Subject: Memorializing Congress to expand training, apprenticeship and employment opportunities for youth workers
I am preparing to introduce a resolution to urge Congress and the U.S. Secretary of Labor to review the child labor provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and take action to expand training, apprenticeship and employment opportunities for youth workers.

Although there are state standards for child labor, federal standards will still apply even if we reform our state law to provide more opportunities for youths. So, until reforms occur at the federal level, making changes to state law would only serve to confuse employers about which standard to follow.

As we focus on workforce development, it is imperative that we remember the most effective way for workers succeed in the workforce is to obtain work experience and job skills. Unfortunately, child labor standards may be presenting a barrier to opportunities for youth workers. For example, many of the occupational standards restrict training opportunities for youth workers in some of the occupations most in need of qualified workers. With more flexibility, it may be possible to get more members of our future workforce on debt-free pathways to family-sustaining careers.

I will also note that the hours restrictions for youth workers may be antiquated. For instance, a 15 year-old is only allowed to work until 7 p.m. when school is in session, but the same minor can participate in many sports and other extracurricular activities well past that hour. As a result, many employers simply deny these youths the opportunity of employment.

To be clear, the goals of child labor laws – to disincentivize school dropouts and to promote safety for youth workers - are still very important. However, it is just as important to provide opportunities for youth to gain the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. College is not the appropriate path for everyone, and many of our young adults who are struggling to repay expensive student loans could have benefited more from a wider range of opportunities during their teen years. It’s time for federal officials to revisit child labor restrictions in the context of workforce development, so that we can tailor our own child labor laws to create opportunities for Pennsylvania’s future workforce.

I hope you will join me by cosponsoring this resolution.

Introduced as HR547