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February 15, 2024

Legislation to Increase Penalties for Child Labor Violations Clears Committee

DENVER, CO –  The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee today passed legislation to ramp up financial penalties for businesses that violate child labor laws. 

“While we’ve made important progress to update Colorado’s child labor laws, we must ensure violators are held accountable and our youth are protected,” said Rep. Sheila Lieder, D-Littleton. “Right now, businesses face small or non-existence fines for child labor violations that could be putting our youth at risk. This bill would significantly increase financial penalties to hold bad actors accountable. Our legislation would also protect those who speak out about child labor violations from retaliation and ramp up statewide transparency efforts.” 

“Our child labor laws are designed to protect our youth from unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment; we need to ensure the laws are working as intended,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “This bill encourages violation reporting, improves transparency around enforcement measures, increases penalties, and helps keep our youth safe. This legislation is important not only to protect against retaliation, but to hold bad actors accountable.”

HB24-1095, which passed committee by a vote of 8-3, would update the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act of 1971 and strengthen the penalty structure. Under current law, first-time child labor law violators face no fines or fines of only a few hundred dollars. This bill would raise total employer liability to $750 for first-time offenses and $10,000 for willful or repeated offenses. HB24-1095 would also remove legal disincentives that keep victims of child labor violations from reporting and protect child workers from employer retaliation.

Additionally, this bill would also ramp up employer transparency by requiring the Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to publish child labor violations or determinations. CDLE must issue a written notice to an employer with a description of penalties and damages owed if the act is violated. Under this bill, all fine revenue will be deposited into the Wage Theft Enforcement Fund, which distributes payments owed to Colorado employees who have filed claims of wage theft. 

Representative Lieder has championed important bills to strengthen worker protections and labor laws in Colorado. This includes HB23-1196, which amended language in the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act of 1971 to expand the legal action that a child, or a parent of a child, can take to hold a company accountable for breaking the law.

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