HARRISBURG – A comprehensive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law is needed to ensure safer working conditions for young people, Labor & Industry Executive Deputy Secretary Robert V. O’Brien testified Thursday before the House of Representatives’ Labor Relations Committee.
The House panel discussed two pieces of legislation: House Bill 19, sponsored by Rep. Jaret Gibbons; and House Bill 2515, sponsored by Rep. Thomas P. Murt.
“The enforcement of child labor standards is an important department function,” O’Brien said. “The current law – which dates back to 1915 – is antiquated, confusing and has not evolved along with Pennsylvania’s occupational diversity. Updates are needed because the department’s ability to regulate the employment of minors has been constrained by deficiencies with the current law.
“The approval process for work permits and enforcement tools under the existing law are not only outdated, but inconsistent with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Stricter criminal penalties for violations of the Child Labor Law will help discourage potential violators of its requirements in all types of youth employment scenarios. The establishment of administrative prosecution capabilities will streamline the penalty process and aid the department in prosecuting violations in a more efficient manner.”
O’Brien also discussed the importance of making changes to the child labor law that protect all minors – not just those working in a single industry, as suggested by HB 2515.
“We hope that discussions on updates to the current Child Labor Law will be crafted to protect minors working in all industries,” O’Brien testified. “Strengthening the protections for all working minors – not just those in the entertainment industry – has been a shared goal of the department and the General Assembly through prior sessions. Focusing on a single sector unjustly neglects the need for a comprehensive overhaul.”
To review the entire testimony or learn more about Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law, visit www.dli.state.pa.us.