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Interested parents, schools and employers,

As a legislator, I have heard concerns from some parents, employers and schools about the restrictions and limitations for 16- and 17-year-old students to find jobs and work hours that meet their individual needs and interests, particularly students who are enrolled in or completed a career and technical education (CTE) program.  Although the federal government child labor laws do not restrict the number of hours or times of day that 16- and 17-year-olds may work, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has enacted prescriptive rules in the Washington Administrative Code, referred to as WACs, on the hours, days and times that 16- and 17-year-olds may work. For more information see WAC 296-125-027 and 296-131-120

Last year, House Republican members prime-sponsored two bills on this issue. House Bill 2406, prime-sponsored by Rep. April Connors, would have required L&I to convene a work group to review and develop recommendations for changes to existing laws, rules, and agency policies to enhance the employability of 16 and 17-year-old students. This bill did not get a public hearing. 

Rep. Stephanie McClintock introduced House Bill 2035 to just allow 16- and 17-year-olds in CTE programs to work the same number and frequency of hours during the school year as permitted during school vacations or holidays (non-school week hours), which is currently allowed for students enrolled in Running Start. This bill received a public hearing, but was not voted on in committee. 

I was recently notified by L&I that they are seeking feedback on the draft administrative policy on the employment of minors that guides scheduling and hours of work requirements for minors.  Although this policy must align with current law, the Revised Code of Washington or RCWs, and rules (WACs), including the two noted above, and is meant to clarify and provide more details than the RCWs and WACs, this is a good opportunity to share with L&I any concerns you may have with the limitations and restrictions on the days, times and hours that minors may work.  

Here is the link to the information from L&I regarding a virtual feedback session on April 26 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., or written comments can be submitted to L&I through May 31

I encourage you to register and participate in the virtual feedback session. Make your voice heard! This is an opportunity to provide feedback and personal experiences from around Washington state.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Suzanne Schmidt

State Representative Suzanne Schmidt, 4th Legislative District
468 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7820 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000