Louisiana House Committee Has Voted To Repeal Law Requiring Employers To Give Child Workers Lunch Breaks

Young Adult Working At McDonald's

A Louisiana House committee has voted to repeal a law mandating lunch breaks for child workers and to slash unemployment benefits, reflecting a broader effort by Republicans to bolster employers and reduce aid for injured and unemployed workers.

The House Labor and Industrial Relations panel approved three bills, signaling a shift in labor regulations in the state. House Bill 156, sponsored by first-term state Rep. Roger Wilder, aims to abolish the requirement for employers to provide lunch breaks to child workers.

Wilder, who owns Smoothie King franchises across the Deep South, argued that children prefer to work without breaks and questioned the necessity of such regulations, particularly when neighboring states like Mississippi lack similar requirements. The committee passed the bill with a 10-3 majority.

Another bill, HB 119, seeks to overhaul the state’s unemployment benefits system. It proposes reducing the maximum period for unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks and links benefit duration to the state’s unemployment rate.

This move is pitched as a means to incentivize job-seeking and discourage prolonged reliance on unemployment benefits.

However, critics, including Christina LeBlanc from Invest in Louisiana, warned of disproportionate harm to rural areas with lower unemployment rates.

Civil rights attorney, Ben Crump has also thumbed down the move by the LA House Committee, posting the following on Instagram:

“Shocking disregard for children’s well-being!”

Additionally, the committee approved House Bill 529, introduced by Rep. Raymond Crews, which aims to change the calculation of workers’ compensation wages.

Under this bill, workers’ comp benefits would be calculated based on the total income received in the 52 weeks before the accident, potentially leading to reduced benefits for injured workers who received raises or promotions before their injury.

While proponents argue that these measures would streamline processes and benefit employers, opponents fear adverse effects on laborers, particularly in rural and low-income areas.

The approval of these bills aligns with a broader trend seen in Republican-led state legislatures nationwide, with efforts to weaken labor regulations and unions.

These developments underscore the ongoing debate surrounding labor rights and the balance between employer interests and worker protections.

As these bills progress to the full House, their potential impact on Louisiana’s workforce and economic landscape remains a topic of considerable concern and discussion.