Jack Walker Published

Younger Teens Would No Longer Need Work Permits Under Bill

A person fills out paperwork on a clipboard.
Under House Bill 5159, 14 and 15-year-olds in West Virginia would no longer need work permits to receive employment. Instead, they would just need an age certificate and parental consent.

The West Virginia House of Delegates is considering a bill that would eliminate work permits for 14 and 15-year-olds.

Currently, 14 and 15-year-olds must obtain a permit to work in West Virginia. These permits are ultimately under the purview of the state superintendent of schools.

But House Bill 5159 would eliminate these work permits, and instead require that 14- and 15-year-olds just receive proof of their age in the form of an age certificate.

Additionally, it would be up to the state Commissioner of Labor to distribute those certificates.

At a meeting of the House Committee on Government Organization Monday, Del. Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, expressed concern that the bill would remove parental authority over youth employment.

During the meeting, members of the committee proposed an amendment that would require parental consent for an age certificate to be issued to a teenager.

The amendment passed, and Del. Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, said it “tightens up a loophole” in the pending legislation.

For the most part, members of the committee spoke favorably of the bill, citing drawn-out experiences of helping their own children secure employment.

Young, however, voiced concern that removing work permits would still place employers and teenagers at risk.

Young pointed to an incident in Alabama in which a 15-year-old fell off a ladder on his first day at a roofing company and died. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor found that the company had violated child labor laws.

“The parental consent absolutely helps. However, I still just think this is too onerous, and repealing laws that I think are good laws to have,” she said.

The bill ultimately received majority support from members of the committee, with delegates voting to send it to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.