US: SHORTER WORKERS NOT THE SOLUTION

Some states, including Missouri, are considering rolling back child labour protections in response to labour shortages. Republican legislators in Missouri want to remove a certification process that currently requires 14 and 15-year-olds to obtain a work certificate from their schools, along with parental consent, before they can work.

This certification process ensures that young workers receive important information about their job duties and working hours.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, about a dozen states have loosened their child-labour laws since 2021. The motivation behind this legislative push seems to be the ongoing labour shortage.

Business groups including Missouri Grocers, Retailers and the Chamber of Commerce support the bill, which they say will make it easier to hire young workers. Critics argue that the proposal avoids addressing the real issue. Instead of paying workers more, the bill enables the exploitation of vulnerable young workers.

Wisconsin Assemblywoman Deb Andraca summed up the problem well when responding to a similar effort in her state, saying, ‘The solution to Wisconsin's worker shortages is not shorter workers.’

Weakening child labour protections should never be seen as a way forward when addressing workforce shortages.

Source: Confined Space, 2 May

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