Governor of Arkansas Signs a Bill Easing Child Labor Protections

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the governor of Arkansas, has eased child labor rules, making it easier for businesses to hire juveniles without tight supervision.

The new law, known as the Youth Hiring Act of 2023, permits employers to recruit youngsters younger than 16 without permission from the Division of Labor. Historically, minors under 16 required job certifications that contained their age, a description of the work, and parental or guardian consent. The Republican governor has attempted to portray the bill as relieving parents who send their children to work of a “burden.” Critics have stated that the Arkansas law will increase the number of child labor infractions. By removing the requirement for parental agreement, Democratic state legislator Andrew Collins criticized the bill for increasing “the potential of abuses and infractions of other child labor regulations.”

The Labor Department has discovered a staggering 69 percent increase in the number of youngsters employed unlawfully by businesses since 2018. In addition, more than 3,800 minors worked illegal occupations in the previous month. Reid Maki, National Consumers League director of child labor advocacy, stated, “Just because there’s a labor shortage doesn’t mean you can turn your back on almost a century of child labor law and start hiring children, especially for dangerous jobs, as we’re seeing more and more of across the country.”