- by theguardian
- 21 Sep 2023
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Friday that loosens child labor laws by extending the hours that teens can work and the establishments where they can be employed.
The state legislature passed the GOP-led bill earlier this month largely along party lines after weeks of fierce debate. Democrats argued that easing the rules would endanger children and distract them from school and extracurricular activities, while the bill's backers maintained that it would provide greater job opportunities. Iowa joins several states that have introduced or enacted legislation aiming to loosen child labor laws.
"With this legislation Iowa joins 20 other states in providing tailored, common sense labor provisions that allow young adults to develop their skills in the workforce," Reynolds said in a statement.
"In Iowa, we understand there is dignity in work and we pride ourselves on our strong work ethic. Instilling those values in the next generation and providing opportunities for young adults to earn and save to build a better life should be available," she added.
Reynolds, whose signature was expected, has been a proponent of expanding youth employment opportunities. Last year, she signed a bill that lowered the minimum age requirement to provide unsupervised care to school-age children in child care facilities to 16.
Under the newly signed law, 14- and 15-year-olds are allowed to work two additional hours per day when school is in session, from four to six hours. They are also able to work until 9 p.m. during most of the year and until 11 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day, two hours later than previously allowed. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are now permitted to work the same hours as an adult.
The law also allows teens as young as 16 to serve alcohol in restaurants during the hours food is being served if their employer has written permission from their parent or guardian. It also requires that two adults be present while the teen serves alcohol and for the teen to complete "training on prevention and response to sexual harassment."
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