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Michigan lawmaker wants to hike fines for child labor scofflaws


Photo: Michigan House of Representatives

Lansing, MI — A bill recently introduced in Michigan would increase fines for child labor law violations by as much as 10 times.

Rep. Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) introduced H.B. 4932 on Aug. 23 in response to a recent report published in The New York Times that details the widespread, illegal use of child labor in western Michigan and throughout the country.

As of now, the fine for violators of child labor laws is generally $500 for the first and all subsequent offenses. Under the bill, first-time violators would be fined up to $5,000, while second and subsequent offenses would incur fines up to $25,000 and $50,000, respectively. The current fine structure hasn’t been updated since 1981, according to a press release from Michigan House Democrats.

In addition, violations after the first offense would be elevated to felonies from misdemeanors.

The bill mirrors federal law in that it includes enhanced penalties for employers who violate the law and their misconduct results in a worker’s death or bodily harm.

“Children have a right to be safe and focus on their education,” Skaggs said in the release. “Teenagers should not be working on egg farms for 12 hours a day, they should not be working the night shift on the assembly line and they should not be working under hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, current penalties are not enough of a deterrent.”

The bill has been referred to the House Higher Education and Community Colleges Committee.

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