Arkansas enacts Youth Hiring Act; under 16 now eligible for employment


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Arkansas – The state of Arkansas has introduced legislation facilitating employment for individuals under the age of 16. As of August 1, 2023, ACT 195, otherwise known as the Youth Hiring Act of 2023, amends existing labor laws, creating opportunities for young individuals to enter the workforce without requiring an employment certificate.

This progressive law also eliminates the obligation for minors to validate their age or procure a written endorsement from a parent or legal guardian as a prerequisite for employment. However, the response from local business owners to these changes has been varied.

Shelly Duty, proprietor of the Ridge Coffee in Brookland, expressed mixed feelings about the new law. Her hiring decisions, she explained, would depend on the individual applicant. “There are some responsibilities that I think they could manage, but there are others that I question whether even 18-year-olds are prepared for,” Duty remarked.

Duty suggested that age doesn’t necessarily correlate with job readiness or capacity for responsibility, stating, “It’s really about the individual child. We’ve had employees who, despite being 20, present as younger and struggle with even basic tasks such as taking orders.”

At Ridge Coffee, Duty maintains a hiring policy that requires employees to be at least 18 years of age. However, she shared an example of a positive experience with youth employment. “My child started working at 15 through a waiver and was only permitted to work during certain hours. This turned out to be a constructive experience,” she commented.

The new law, enabling individuals under 16 to secure employment, became effective on August 1, 2023.


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