WASHINGTON — U.S. Home Training and Workforce Committee Democrats on Thursday introduced the introduction of a invoice to extend civil and felony penalties for employers who knowingly violate youngster labor legal guidelines.
The measure would additionally forestall states from easing federal youngster labor requirements.
The invoice, The Defending Kids Act, comes as a number of states have handed legal guidelines that roll again youngster labor legal guidelines, coupled with U.S. Division of Labor investigations which have discovered a gentle enhance in youngster labor violations since 2015. The Division of Labor discovered youngsters as younger as 10 working fryers at a McDonald’s in Louisville, Ky.
Amongst a number of initiatives, the invoice goals to forestall state laws from loosening federal youngster labor legal guidelines by amending the Truthful Labor Requirements Act of 1938, to determine that “[n]o order, rule, or regulation promulgated … shall cut back the safety afforded youngsters by an present order, rule, or regulation promulgated beneath this Act.”
The invoice wouldn’t override any of the current modifications to state legal guidelines, however would surpass any state legislation that will enable youngsters to work in mines or meat processing vegetation.
Scholten invoice would enhance fines for youngster labor violations
The invoice is unlikely to be dropped at the ground for a vote, and Home Training and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx argued that the invoice doesn’t tackle the problem of kid labor.
“Democrats are trying to make use of the present immigration disaster to justify longtime wage-and-hour wish-list objects from organized labor and particular curiosity teams whereas doing nothing to handle the underlying issues outlined within the nationwide press,” the North Carolina Republican mentioned in a press release to States Newsroom.
Kids who’re significantly susceptible to youngster labor violations are unaccompanied migrant youth. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have held a number of hearings on the problem, elevating considerations about a number of studies on unaccompanied migrant youngsters exploited as employees in U.S. meatpacking vegetation and elsewhere.
Democrats on the committee have pushed for a listening to on the problem, however Foxx argued that members would have the chance to ask questions on youngster labor violation when U.S. Well being and Human Companies Secretary Xavier Becerra testified.
Throughout the listening to with Becerra, Democrats and Republicans on the Home Training and Workforce committee grilled him in regards to the company shedding contact with 1000’s of migrant youngsters who have been exploited.
On Thursday, the highest Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, mentioned in a press release that the invoice “takes long-overdue steps to strengthen youngster labor legal guidelines and implement severe penalties for endangering youngsters on the job.”
“Kids must be studying and rising in faculties, not risking their security and lives in harmful workplaces,” he mentioned. “Regrettably, current reporting has demonstrated that youngsters proceed to lose their lives and endure devastating accidents as a result of they work in hazardous jobs.”
The invoice goals to strengthen enforcement by growing the utmost civil penalties, establishing new minimal penalties and doubling penalties for instances that contain the demise of a kid or repeat or willful youngster labor violations.
For instance, the present most penalty for violating federal youngster labor requirements is $11,000, however beneath the brand new laws could be a minimal of $1,500 and a most of $150,000.
The invoice additionally expands felony penalties for willful youngster labor violations. Below present legislation, the penalty is a effective of not more than $10,000 and as much as six months of imprisonment.
The invoice would place an employer in as much as a 12 months in imprisonment if that employer “negligently locations a toddler in imminent hazard of demise or severe bodily damage,” in keeping with a truth sheet of the invoice.
The actual fact sheet says that an employer who willfully or knowingly violates youngster labor legal guidelines and “knowingly locations a toddler in imminent hazard of demise or severe bodily damage can, upon conviction, be punished by a effective,” and face “imprisonment as much as 15 years, or each.”
It could additionally bar the U.S. Division of Labor for establishing rulemaking “that will roll again youngster labor requirements and go away youngsters much less protected.”
The invoice would additionally set up a Nationwide Advisory Committee on Little one Labor, to advise the U.S. Division of Labor and the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies about youngster labor points, and directs the Nationwide Institute for Occupational Security and Well being to be the lead company on conducting analysis “associated to youngster labor, the occupational security and well being of younger employees, and the publicity or threat of publicity of susceptible youngsters to youngster labor.”