LANSING, Mich., Sept. 8, 2023 – State Reps. Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) and Helena Scott (D-Detroit) have introduced House Bills 4932 and 4962 which aim to bolster Michigan’s child labor laws. The legislation increases penalties against companies that unethically exploit and abuse young people in unsafe working environments.

“Now that Michigan kids are  back in school, we are reminded how incredibly necessary  it is that we do all we can to put them in the best position to succeed,” Skaggs said. “While having a job at a young age can teach important, lifelong skills and help support families, companies that break the law and exploit our kids for higher profits should be held accountable. Learning about the tragic stories of these young people not only breaks our hearts but spurs us to protect them. Unlike states such as Iowa and Arkansas that are rolling back their child labor protections, we in Michigan are going to show that we value our young people and will protect them against exploitation.”

House Bill 4932 was introduced in response to a recent New York Times article detailing the widespread, illegal use of child labor in West Michigan and throughout the country. All too often, these children were forced to miss classes or drop out of school altogether. The bill would increase financial penalties, which have not been updated since 1981, against bad actors five to 10 times more than current fines, which are generally a $500 fine for the first and all subsequent violations.

“Without the labor force, our economy will not continue to prosper, that prosperity should not come at the expense of any working child’s safety, health or mental well-being. House Bill 4962 will ensure that working children be protected within the labor force by penalizing those held responsible for putting our children in harm’s way,” said Scott.

House Bill 4962 would amend the code of criminal procedure to include fines for the employment of children during certain hours involving death and bodily harm for first, second and third or subsequent offenses.