Iowa governor signs bill relaxing child labor laws
Iowa teens could work more jobs and longer hours under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds
DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa teens could work more jobs and for longer hours under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The Republican governor signed the law after it was approved by the legislature in early May with only Republican support. Several states are passing repealed child labor laws in response to complaints from business owners that they cannot find enough workers. Iowa’s unemployment rate in April was 2.7%.
“With this legislation, Iowa joins 20 other states in providing responsive, common-sense work provisions that allow young adults to develop their skills in the workplace,” Reynolds said in a statement.
Child protection advocates fear the measures represent a coordinated push to scale back hard-won protections for minors.
Lawmakers removed language from earlier versions of the bill that would have allowed state officials to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work in jobs now prohibited for minors. Some potentially dangerous jobs such as mining and meatpacking would also be banned for those under 18.
The new law would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in areas such as manufacturing as long as it was a work-based learning program with an exemption from the Ministry of Education from Iowa or Iowa Workforce Development. These jobs could potentially mean teens using power saws or helping with demolition.
Under the new rules, 16- and 17-year-olds could also serve alcohol in restaurants provided business owners have written permission from the worker’s parent or guardian. Two adult employees should be in an area where children serve drinks, and restaurant employees should undergo training on preventing sexual harassment.
The law would also allow children under 16 to work up to six hours a day while school is in session. Previously, they could not work more than four hours.
Reynolds on Friday signed a dozen bills ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, including high-profile legislation that bans teaching about gender identity from classrooms through sixth grade, and books that include sex acts in school libraries.