[We’re sharing here a Press Release by Senator Schatz, 10/20/2023]
Schatz, Young Introduce New Legislation to Help Stop Child Labor
Bipartisan Bill Establishes New Criminal Penalties, Imposes New Steep Fines For Employers Who Violate Child Labor Laws
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) this week introduced new legislation to help stop illegal child labor. The bipartisan Stop Child Labor Act would increase maximum fines for violations, establish new criminal penalties, allow victims harmed by violations to file private lawsuits, and encourage collaboration between employers and government to stop child labor violations before they occur.
“Right now, our laws are allowing some of the worst employers to get away with exploiting kids for labor with nothing more than weak fines,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill will strengthen our child labor laws, hold bad employers accountable, and protect kids from this illicit practice.”
“Recent data shows that child labor exploitation is not a thing of the past or a problem limited to the developing world. This bipartisan bill would strengthen our nation’s labor laws to better protect our children,” said Senator Young.
This week, DOL released new data showing child labor violations at their highest level in two decades. In fiscal year 2023, violations soared to 5,792, an 88 percent increase from 2019. This is due to companies increasingly circumventing child labor laws to fill positions due to the tight labor market. Currently, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) imposes weak fines for violations, making it financially easier for companies to skirt child labor laws. Earlier this year, it was revealed that migrant child labor is being used for hazardous jobs in factories making products for well-known brands like Cheetos, Fruit of the Loom, and Lucky Charms. In addition, DOL announced this year that it found more than 100 children across eight states cleaning dangerous meat processing equipment using hazardous chemicals for a contractor of major meat producer JBS Foods. While several child workers were injured on the job, DOL levied its maximum fine, just $15,138 for each count.
To stop child labor and hold bad employers accountable, the Stop Child Labor Act would:
- Increase child labor violation civil penalties to:
- $5,000 minimum – $132,270 maximum for routine violations;
- $25,000 minimum – $601,150 maximum for each violation that causes the death or serious injury of a minor;
- Create criminal penalties for a repeat or willful violation of child labor laws to include a fine of up to $50,000 and a year in jail;
- Allow children harmed by violations of the law to seek compensation;
- Start a grant program aimed at helping employers recognize, avoid, and prevent child labor violations; and
- Permanently establish a National Advisory Committee on Child Labor.
The full text of the bill is available here.
[The BIPARTISAN bill, number S.3051, was introduced on 10/17/2023 and has 1 cosponsors as of 11/9/2023 — Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) Cosponsored on 10/17/2023]