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US States To Allow 14-Year-Olds To Serve Alcohol At Bars And Restaurants

Last Updated: May 26, 2023, 19:24 IST

Minors aged 16 and 17 may soon find themselves serving alcohol at restaurants and bars.

Ten US states are planning to reshape the employment landscape for teenagers, granting them extended working hours.

Several US states are contemplating relaxing their child labour laws, which will allow youngsters to serve alcohol in bars and businesses to make students work for longer hours. Ten states are planning to reshape the employment landscape for minors, granting them extended working hours on school nights and expanding their job responsibilities. This comes after the Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, signed a bill that abolished work permits for children under 16, according to news agency Associated Press.

“The Governor believes protecting kids is most important, but this permit was an arbitrary burden on parents to get permission from the government for their child to get a job,” a spokesperson for the Republican governor said.

Under the Republican-led initiatives across various states, child labour laws are undergoing significant changes. These initiatives aim to broaden the scope of work opportunities for children and increase their working hours, even on school nights. Iowa legislature recently made headlines by passing a bill in April that permits children aged 14 and 15 to work in industrial laundromats, meat freezers and engage in ‘light assembly work’ in specific factories, the report added.

Moreover, minors aged 16 and 17 may soon find themselves serving alcohol at restaurants and bars, as these establishments also offer food services. These changes also seek to extend the permitted working hours for children under the age of 16. Currently restricted to a maximum of four hours per day, the proposed adjustments would expand this limit to six hours.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has time until June 3 to make a decision on signing the bill into law. Following Iowa’s lead, Republicans in Wisconsin introduced a similar law in May, aiming to permit children as young as 14 to serve alcohol in bars. Ohio is also considering a similar proposal, looking to eliminate the current restriction that prohibits underage students from working past 7 PM on school nights, according to the report.

The recent relaxing of child labour laws in several US states, particularly Iowa, has faced major criticism, including from the federal Department of Labour. Seema Nanda, the solicitor of the department, described Iowa’s law as “irresponsible.”

The Department of Labour has expressed concern over the potential consequences and impact on the well-being of children. Currently, there are more than 600 ongoing investigations into illegal child labour, including a few cases in Iowa.

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