HB64 by Rep. Crews allows employers to extend the time that minors can work without a break from (the current law) five hours to eight hours. The bill moved out of House Labor on Thursday, April 25, 2019, without objection. It will be considered on the House Floor on Monday, May 6, 2019.
Supporters of the law claim that the law is necessary because minors cannot find work in the food service industry which has difficulty accommodating the five-hour work rule. Proponents of the bill also cited the difficulty of students in the ProStart program, a high school training program that allows students to train for careers in the food-service industry, in finding employers with whom they can complete their requisite hours for certification because restaurants to not want to hire minors because of the five-hour break rule.
1) Practical: ProStart is a program sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. If restaurants are reluctant to participate, then the onus is on their association to encourage participation for what ultimately becomes their trained workforce. The solution is not to require children to work longer without a break.
2) Regulatory: The Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission has publicly committed to working with the Restaurant Association to address the hours required to complete the certification without needing to increase the hours that minors work without a break.
3) Health: A study in the January 2018 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 187, Issue 1) shows a peer-reviewed study whereby it was demonstrated that standing at work for extended periods has a detrimental effect on health outcomes. Specifically, the study mentioned that the incidence of heart disease among those who stand a lot at work is similar to the incidence of heart disease among workers who smoked or were obese. Those in the food-service industry stand virtually their entire shift, so we would be subjecting children to adverse health effects by increasing the amount of time they can work without being given a break. Standing for more than five hours a day contributes to significant and prolonged lower-limb muscle fatigue which could result in life-long problems for children.
4) Barn Door: While members of the restaurant industry have claimed this bill is necessary, this bill would open up the law to ALL employers who can require that minors work for eight hours before receiving a break. We have protections for child laborers to protect their health and safety, there simply is no compelling reason to remove these protections.
5) Louisiana Is NOT an Outlier: 34 states have provisions that protect minors by requiring a break. Fourteen of those states have break rules that cover all employees. See the list of state rules here.
What we need you to do:
Contact your House Member before next week and tell them to protect the work protections we have in place for our children. Here is a list of member e-mails and the House Switchboard number is 225-342-6945. They may be home over the weekend, so this may also be a time to visit with them in your local district.
The Bill is Scheduled for House Floor Debate on Monday, May 6.