Bulletin #22 HR3139 - legislation which will affect your homeschooled teen         01/19/2004


Did you know?: HR3139 Youth Worker Protection Act will make teenagers unemployable.


HR3139 Youth Worker Protection Act ("Working-Hour Restrictions for Minors") was introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos (CA) in September 2003. One of the goals of this bill is to seriously restrict the hours a teen may work. For example, 16 and 17 year olds will not be permitted to work more than 4 hours per day, or 20 hours per week. Teens aged 14-15 will be limited to 3 hours per day, or 15 hours per week. This bill will also severely restrict what jobs teenagers can do. It will also federally require your child to obtain a worker permit from a local school.

Right now the bill is "in committee" in the Committee on Education and the Workforce and, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. Congress comes back into session on January 20th, so it isn't certain how fast this bill will move out of committee, but it is currently being supported by the NEA (National Education Association), and the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations).


Under this legislation. "the term ‘school-age minor’ means a minor who, as determined under the law applicable to the school district in which the minor lives, has not earned a high school diploma or other document of equivalent or greater status. ’’.


Under this legislation this is a sampling of work that a 'school age minor' would not be permitted to do :

·         mow lawns

·         paint houses

·         work in any retail establishment that has a ladder over 6 feet tall

·         operate or be around deep fryer machines - found in most fast food eateries

·         sell newspapers or any other materials door to door (unless it is for a school PTA)

·         operate or be around trash compacters found in supermarkets and other stores

·         operate or be around food slicers - found in most grocery deli departments and bakeries

·         operate or be around power equipment

·         drive any kind of vehicle

This kind of legislation severely limits how teenagers can earn money. This is especially detrimental for kids who wish to save money for college.


Another provision of this legislation requires that kids obtain working papers at their local school. It also allows the school to revoke the permission to work. Homeschoolers, and any other teenager, should not have to rely on the public schools for this kind of permission. If employers need proof of age, all they need to do is require prospective employees to present a valid birth certificate. The public school should not be involved in the employment process at all.


Schools are adopting School to Work apprenticeship programs, which "supervise" a student's employment. Since homeschoolers do not participate in School to Work programs, this may also give homeschooled teens a disadvantage in terms of the amount of time they are allowed to work versus the amount of time that teens attending school may work. This is of concern because public schooled teens "work time" may be included in their public school hours. We can see where this is all leading. Kids will not be able to work unless they are enrolled in school. Whatever work they do will be "supervised" through the school.

This also looks like a way for the unions to get rid of teens in places like fast food establishments and other retail stores so that they can hike up wages.


We recommend that anyone interested in this legislation, should read the text of this bill in its entirety for a complete understanding. The bill is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/. Find out what your own state labor laws say too. Contact your legislative representatives and let them know how you feel about this bill.


Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. – www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net