The actual age is currently up in the air amongst Iowa lawmakers.

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Everyone remembers their first job "on the books," right?

Whether it be at a restaurant, the mall, or even the family farm; those first jobs have a tendency to shape us and our work ethic. Currently, in the Hawkeye State, if a teen wants to get a job they must acquire a worker's permit, according to officials. 

This workers permit applies to minors between the ages of 14 and 15 for many jobs. At this age, these teen workers are not permitted around hazardous equipment or hazardous materials.

Now, lawmakers are trying to change things up and seem to be relaxing certain child labor laws..

A Change For Child Labor Legislation

Shortly after 5am on  Tuesday April 18th, Iowa Senators passed a controversial law that has gotten national attention.

These legislators passed a bill that will allow teens under the age of 18 to work longer hours in fields that were previously restricted.

Senate File 542 permits minors between the age of 14 and 17 years of age to get jobs that have been prohibited from them for years, as long as they are a part of a school or work training program, according to reports. These include, roofing, demolition, and manufacturing.

Teens in this age bracket can now work for six hours, and can perform tasks until 9pm on school nights and 11pm during the summer.

What Has The Labor Law Been Like For the Past Few Decades?

The precedent for the past decades according to the Iowa Division of Labor, has been;

Children 16 and 17 years old are prohibited from doing certain dangerous tasks and from certain dangerous occupations.

Children 14 and 15 years old have additional restrictions, there are limits on the time and hours they can work, and must have a permit.

A recent report said that teens were able to work certain jobs like food service, clerical work, or bagging groceries at your local Hy-Vee. These teens were NOT permitted to work in or perform certain jobs such as:

  • Meatpacking
  • Slaughterhouses
  • Mining
  • Demolition work

This new bill would allow all teens that fall into this age group to be granted exceptions to this rule by Iowa state workforce and education officials. Such an exception would be granted in the instance that these higher risks jobs are,

"participating in work-based learning or a school or employer-administered, work-related program."

Also, the bill would shield businesses of any sort of liability in the event that something goes wrong, according to reports. 

Waterloo Senator Bill Dotzler said about the law,

“The bill is here because we have a tremendous shortage of workers in the state of Iowa, and this legislative body has failed to address the workforce issues. We can’t find enough workers, so we gotta have child labor involved."

Now, the legislation will move onto the Iowa House of Representatives for consideration. The House has a similar piece of legislation that has been stuck on the floor for a few weeks, according to reports.

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