CLL PCSPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ existing child labor laws have not been substantially updated since the industrial era – nor have they been brought into alignment with the prevailing service economy of the 21st century.

To better safeguard the rights and well-being of the state’s youngest residents, State Senator Robert Peters is leading a measure to protect youth from exploitation – which he outlined at a press conference Friday.

“Young people in the workforce encounter challenges unique to their generation,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “This necessitates broader rules and regulations to safeguard their rights, safety, and well-being. Through expanded child labor laws, this legislation further protects a healthy balance between their work responsibilities, their education, extracurricular activities and personal lives.”

Senate Bill 3646 would provide more protection for children in the workforce by addressing various aspects of child labor, including working conditions, age requirements and sectors prone to exploitation.

With support from the labor sector, the proposal would extend protections to minors who are not enrolled in traditional public or private schools with standard school hours to define when a student is permitted to work. It would also add new positions to the list of prohibited jobs for minors and jobs requiring adult supervision, and impose increased penalties for violations.

“The Illinois Child Labor Law protects some of the most vulnerable members of our society against exploitation," said Illinois Department of Labor Director Jane Flanagan. "The law, however, is nearly 75 years old and we must update its framework to ensure the Illinois Department of Labor has the tools necessary to hold bad actors accountable.”

Acknowledging that not all students have permanent addresses or access to their birth certificate, the measure would further update the school-issued work certification procedure to allow minors without birth certificates or home addresses to receive work permits from their respective school officer.

“As neighboring states are rolling back their child labor protections, the IL AFL-CIO is committed to making Illinois the gold standard when it comes to protecting our children in the workplace,” said Frances Orenic, Illinois AFL-CIO legislative director. “Kids belong in school, not on the factory floor. We are looking forward to working with Senator Peters and the Illinois Department of Labor to ensure that Illinois remains a pro-labor bastion that protects all workers, including future generations.”

Senate Bill 3646 awaits consideration before the full Senate.

Watch the press conference: