Recently signed by Governor Walker, 2017 Wisconsin Act 11 went into effect on June 23, 2017. The act has two objectives. First, it seeks to modernize the language used in the Wisconsin Statutes to refer to labor performed by minors. More specifically, references to “child labor” have been replaced with the less loaded phrase “employment of minors.” The second, more substantive change made by the act is the repeal of the requirement that 16- and 17-year-olds obtain a state-issued permit before they can begin most work activities. Previously, such minors were required to show evidence of parental permission to work, and their employers were required to reimburse them for a $10 licensing fee payable to the state.
Notwithstanding the act, 14-year-olds are still prohibited from most employment in the state of Wisconsin, and individuals who are younger than 16 are still required to obtain work permits for a $10 licensing fee, to be reimbursed by their employers. Likewise, the act did not modify existing laws regarding the hours of work and conditions of employment for minors.
In 2016, more than 70,000 work permits were issued to 16- and 17-year-olds in Wisconsin. The act provides welcome relief from the requirement that such minors obtain work permits and brings Wisconsin in line with the majority of states with respect to work permits.
Keith E. Kopplin is a shareholder in the Milwaukee office of Ogletree Deakins.
Jon A. Derenne is a law student participating in the summer associate program in the Milwaukee office of Ogletree Deakins.