Friday, June 21, 2024

Young workers in Louisiana close to losing required lunch breaks 

by BIZ Magazine

BY: PIPER HUTCHINSON – Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Senate approved a bill Tuesday that repeals a requirement that employers provide a lunch break to some younger workers if their work shift lasts more than five hours.

House Bill 156, by Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs, passed the Senate on a 26-11 vote. The Senate approved an amendment from Sen. Jean-Paul Coussan, R-Lafayette, that altered the proposal so it would only apply to 16- and 17-year-old employees and preserved the required break for workers under 16.

Wilder, a Smoothie King franchisee, previously said he would continue to provide breaks to minors he employs.

Multiple labor unions and labor organizations opposed Wilder’s bill.

“This seems mean-spirited,” Sen. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said of the bill.

Seabaugh pushed back on this assertion, arguing the bill would not lead to an abuse of minors on the job, as young workers who feel they are being mistreated will quit their jobs. The legislation is really about getting rid of paperwork and penalties for employers when minors clock in early from their break, which the bill author described as a disincentive to hire minors, Seabaugh argued.

The proposal is part of a nationwide trend of Republicans rolling back labor protections for minors. Lawmakers in at least 11 states have moved to repeal or loosen laws to bring more teens into the workforce.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it has to go back to the House for another vote.

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