Minnesota push to relax child labor laws

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Due to the tightening labor market, some state legislatures are looking to relax child labor protections to help employers meet hiring needs.

Here in Minnesota lawmakers are proposing a bill that will make it easy for construction companies to employ 16 and 17 year-olds. Its authored by Senator Draheim and called ‘Paid Youth Trades Employment Opportunity Act’. But, Minnesotans are asking if this is safe for young adults.

I spoke to Ty Sundberg co-owner of J&RS Construction Company about this.

‘”Yeah, I think that would really open up a lot of opportunities for these younger folks to get into the industry. And I’ve been in the industry my whole life and it’s been a good career for me. Um, you know, I think each employer does have an obligation, a responsibility to make sure that they’re not just hiring anybody either, you know, so we have a pretty rigorous hiring process and we do, seasonally work with, uh, young adults 16, 17 year old young adults”

Could young adults be taken advantage of by employers?

‘I think it’s a reasonable concern, but I do think that, the system will be the checks and balances. You know, the employers have work comp and they have insurance rates and parents don’t just let their kids go take off in the world, you know. So I don’t feel like it’s a big enough concern that would hold up legislation.’

Sundberg generally believes that the advantages of having young people starting their careers early in construction outweigh the disadvantages. He said this because he also started as a teenager with his father years ago and now co-own the business.

For now, all we can do is wait to see if this bill will become state law or not.