Longer work hours for teens; Wisconsin Senate approves

Wisconsin State Capitol

Teenagers would be allowed to work longer hours over the busy summer tourism months in Wisconsin under a bill the state Senate approved Wednesday.

The measure is backed by Republicans and the state’s hotel, restaurant and grocery industries, but opposed by Democrats and the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

Current law does not allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work later than 7 p.m. from after Labor Day until May 31 and no later than 9 p.m. over the summer.

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The bill would allow employees under age 16 to work until 9:30 p.m. before a school day and up until 11 p.m. when they don’t have school the next day. The changes would not affect businesses covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which includes those with annual sales over $500,000.

Supporters say the changes will help smaller businesses struggling with the state’s worker shortage and be a particular benefit over the summer and weekends when the need is highest for more workers.

The AFL-CIO opposes the measure, saying it rolls back child labor protection laws and supporters have not shown why the change is needed.

The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote, sending it to the Assembly. Approval in that chamber would send the measure on to Gov. Tony Evers, who can sign it into law or veto it. An Evers spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on the proposal.

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