FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Children under the age of 16 years old are now allowed to work without receiving governmental permission.

On March 7, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed House Bill 1410, which revises child labor laws and creates the Youth Hiring Act of 2023.

The lead sponsor of the bill Rebecca Burkes says the law will eliminate the permit process teens aged 14 and 15 have to go through with the Division of Labor.

Burkes says Arkansas passed child labor laws back in 1914 because of the concern for children missing school, going to work in factories and having to get a permit signed at the time by a superintendent, but she says the permit is not needed anymore.

“It’s one small regulation, one small burden on businesses, and also steps in front of parents’ decision-making process about whether their child under 16 years of age can get a job,” Burkes said.

However, Laura Kellams, the Northwest Arkansas Director for Arkansas Advocates For Children and Families says the permit makes a difference for children.

“That paperwork is only that a parent we can ensure that a parent is aware that the child is getting the job and that the hours worked don’t violate child labor laws,” Kellams said.

Kellams says their organization is not opposed to more kids entering the workforce at a young age. She says she just wants to make sure they’re not being neglected.

“There are special protections in place for young people who join the labor force and that is about ensuring that their education isn’t harmed when they go to work. For example, you can’t hire a young person under 16 to work like 6 p.m. to midnight at your restaurant. They have to be finished with work by seven and that’s all about making sure that they’re home and can go to bed in time to be able to learn the next day at school,” Kellams said.

Burkes says with a permit no longer required for minors, she explained employers would still have to abide by the federal child labor laws that are still in effect.

“It does not change anything about federal or state laws relating to the number of hours that these individuals can work, the number of days that they can work, the kinds of industries that they can work in, those laws are still on the books and not affected by this elimination of this one piece of red tape that has to happen for one of these folks can get a job,” Burkes said.