Proposed Ohio bill would expand work hours for students under 16 years old
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits teenagers under 16 years old from working past 7 p.m. during the school year.
But as businesses work to recover from staffing shortages, a state bill reintroduced last month would allow students to work two hours past that time.
Senate Bill 30 creates opportunities for 14 and 15 year old students to work until 9 p.m. year-round with parental approval and consent. The bill has some support from industry officials but there's still some concern.
Ohio Restaurant Association's CEO John Barker, witnesses the impacts of staffing shortages daily for businesses. Which is why the bill has his support.
"Our restaurants are still short, anywhere, on average between about 10 and 20% of what they need to be and the number of employees to be able to operate," Barker said.
A version of Senate Bill 30 was introduced by State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) during the last general assembly, but did not reach final decision.
Now, as lawmakers and restaurant officials advocate increasing work hours for teenagers, there are some worries about students underperforming in school due to work commitments.
"Student[s] may also be someone who is having problems in school and so you are starting to prioritize work over school," said Labor and Employment Attorney Jeffery Geisinger.
According to Barker, extending responsibilities for teenagers will also promote individual self-growth.
"Being able to go to their local restaurant or to the dairy queen, wherever and be able to work a couple of hours after school. Keep them busy, keep them occupied and learn a life skill," Barker said.
The first hearing for the bill took place Feb 8.