Proposed Wisconsin labor law hopes to ease worker shortage with longer hours for teens age 14, 15

Worker shortage 2021: Amid 'the great resignation,' supporters of bill think longer hours for underage workers could help

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
WI bill would allow longer hours for underage workers
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A proposed Wisconsin labor law hopes to ease a worker shortage with longer hours for teens age 14 and 15.

MADISON, Wis. -- A new bill working its way through the Wisconsin Legislature would allow 14 and 15 year olds to work longer hours.

Supporters said the move could help address a worker shortage, WISN reported.

"It would help us out immensely because you have the younger kids that want to work," said Scott Borkin, general manager of a local business called Kopp's.

The bill would allow the teens to work until 9:30 p.m. on nights before a school day and until 11 p.m. when they don't have school the following day.

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The changes would only impact businesses that make less than $500,000 in annual sales and are not covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The measure is backed by Republicans and organizations like the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association, but Democrats and the AFL-CIO have said they oppose the change.

"It's a nice workaround," said state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee. "I think in reality if those employers are looking for workers, what frankly the market should dictate is they should be raising wages, offering additional benefits."

The state Assembly still has to vote on the proposal before it would go to Gov. Tony Evers.

It's not clear yet whether he would sign it into law or veto it.