LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -House Bill 64, a bill proposing that minors work longer periods of time without a break, was unanimously approved by the Louisiana House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.
The committee advanced the bill, by state Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, without opposition.
Currently, state law says minors cannot work more than five hours straight without a 30 minute break for meals.
Although the bill has sparked quite the conversation, Crew said his mission is about providing an opportunity for young people to work.
“There are establishments around town that won’t hire any minors as just a matter of practice because it’s too burdensome on them," Crews said.
Apparently, for every infraction of the child labor law businesses can face fines of at least $500, Crews said.
“We looked at the states around us, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and nobody has a 5 hour restriction like we do,” Crews said. “From what I’ve heard, employers give minors frequent breaks as often as they can, it’s just this 5 hour thing, it’s a problem when these businesses have an unexpected rush.”
7News spoke with a couple of local businesses who’ve made it a practice to hire minors. Stephen Crittenden, manager at Super Cuts in Lake Charles said that most young people aren’t ready for that type of challenge.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s really a great idea for the younger kids to have an 8 hour period where they work,” Stephen said.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association supports the bill, saying some restaurants will not hire minors because of the mandatory break rule.
It’s no secret that many teens usually find their starter jobs in the restaurant business, Bobby Honeycutt, general manager of Botskyz Hotdogs in Lake Charles said he can see the pros and cons in the bill.
“I feel like this bill would be more of a positive for restaurants rather than minors, you have to think about your minor employees--if you are relying on them so much that you need them for that whole 8 hours without any kind of break,” Honeycutt said.
Minors are also not allowed to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. respectively.
No federal laws restrict how many hours a 16 or 18-year-old can work. However, most states have their own laws regarding the number of hours a child can work.
“This bill is about providing opportunity for young people to work,” Crews said.
Those against the bill, say kids need time to rest.
The bill now moves to the full house for a vote.