Alabama Wants Teenage Workers; Bill Aimed for Work Relaxation Proposed in House

State and federal laws have various limitations on the ability of 14- and 15-year-old Alabamans to hold jobs; Rep. Susan DuBose (R-Hoover) is attempting to “eliminate barriers to employment” for these young people with a new measure.

Legally, Alabama youths between the ages of 14 and 15 can work, but they can only put in a maximum of 40 hours per week, with an additional 18 hours allowed while they are in school.

Teens need approval from a school official, guidance counselor, or instructor in addition to their parent or legal guardian to work more than the federally mandated minimum hours.

The bill would remove the requirement that students get permission from an official at their school before they can work, which DuBose said would increase the low labor participation rate in the state.

The bill’s Senate sponsor is Republican Decatur senator Arthur Orr. On Thursday, the Senate Children and Youth Health Committee gave its approval, and next week, the full Senate may vote on it.

This bill is strikingly similar to one of the conservative Alabama Policy Institute’s proposed policies for 2024, which it calls the “2024 Blueprint for Alabama.”

The unemployment rate in Alabama is among the lowest in the country, but the labor participation rate, which counts the unemployed regardless of whether they are actively seeking work or not, is among the highest. In addition, the poll indicated that the youth labor participation rate in Alabama is the lowest in the nation, at 18%, among those aged 16 to 24.

A new “transformative” workforce development plan is expected to be introduced as many bills in the next weeks, after state leaders in Alabama have spent a considerable amount of time and money investigating the reasons behind the precipitous decline in the state’s labor participation rate.

Although DuBose acknowledged that her plan would not significantly improve Alabama’s low labor participation rate, she emphasized that it aimed to make progress and provide more opportunities for teens to acquire the “invaluable experience” that is associated with employment.