Several states—including neighboring Ohio, along with Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin—are currently considering adjusting their child labor laws. Although the bills differ from state to state, there are two main components. The bills seek to expand the number of hours that 14 and 15-year-olds are allowed to work. Some states are also considering allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol, with parental permission.
Dropping the ages for these requirements could help local businesses stay open since they could hire younger workers.
I asked six Avonworth students between the ages of 16 and 17 how they felt about these laws, even though they haven’t yet come to Pennsylvania.
Sadie Walsh (2025): Sadie is 16 years old and she works at Gigi’s Cupcakes. She mainly works on weekends, up to 5-hour shifts.
Kacey Lavelle (2025): Kacey is 16 years old and she has worked at the Avonworth Pool, Avalon Pool, and Steel City Aquatics. She works up to 8-hour shifts in the summer, but only works 1.5-hour shifts during the school year because she isn’t lifeguarding.
Laurel Purcell (2023): Laurel is 17 years old and she works at Andorra. She works about 6 hours a week during the school year and 40 during the summer.
Peri Swiatkowski (2025): Peri is 16 years old and works at Giant Eagle. She works about 16 hours a week during the school year.
Riley Adams (2025): Riley is 16 years old and works at X-Cel Gymnastics. She works about 8-10 hours a week.
Nathalia Bikowitz (2024): Nathalia is 17 years old and has worked at Kid-to-Kid. She worked about 10-14 hours a week, mainly on weekends. She worked in Maryland, and the laws are a bit stricter than in PA.
How would you feel about an increase in the number of hours you’re allowed to work?
Sadie: “It probably wouldn’t affect me much because I can only work a certain number of hours. It’s probably fine, I get the idea, some kids are working to help with their families so they need more hours.”
Kacey: “It would be nice to have the option, but with school and sports right now I can’t increase my work hours.”
Laurel: “No, unless there’s a special circumstance, like the person is a primary provider.”
Riley: “Personally, I would not really like that because I think that teenagers especially at those ages need to focus on school more than work, but it also depends on their situation. If they’re working to help their families with income, than I can see that helping, but in general I think they should stay in school and not have to work as much.”
Peri: “I feel like as long as the company is still flexible it would be okay.”
Nathalia: “I feel like it depends on your schedule at school. I think it should depend on your grades and schedule at school and your extracurriculars. If you have bad grades and so many classes, then you shouldn’t have to work, even if it’s for your families. A lot of kids end up dropping out of high school because they can’t do school and work.”
Do you think it would be harmful or helpful?
Sadie: “It has the potential to be either depending on how bosses handle it.”
Kacey: “I think harmful because it would overwork people.”
Riley: “I think it depends. For the most part, I’d say harmful, because kids need to focus on school and extracurriculars.”
Nathalia: “I don’t know, because I don’t know how many hours it would be. It would depend on what the hours increased to.”
How do you feel about 16 and 17-year-olds being allowed to serve alcohol with parental permission?
Sadie: “The parent permission is good! It’s definitely…[pauses, laughs]…a choice, knowing how some kids our age act around alcohol, and how alcohol can be portrayed as this amazing thing. Also, someone could be like, ‘I work at a bar, I can get you alcohol.'”
Kacey: “I don’t think that’s very bright, because we’re not ready for that at this age. I feel like you should at least be 18.”
Laurel: “Yes, I think it’s fine. Also I’m kind of biased, because I’ve been waiting to turn 18 to do that.”
Riley: “I wouldn’t agree with it, but I also don’t have really strong feelings about it because it depends on the situation.”
Peri: “I feel like that’s okay. Because it’s serving and it’s not involving in it, so they’re having little contact with it.”
Nathalia: “I feel like you should be 18. Because if you’re working at a bar, you’re more likely to drink. I feel like if you’re 16 or 17, you can work around people who serve it, but you shouldn’t be serving drinks.”
Would you work somewhere you could serve alcohol? If they had better pay?
Sadie: “No, I like my job. Even if they offered better pay.”
Kacey: “Yes. That sounds so bad, but I want more money.”
Nathalia: “No, probably not. I just feel like that’s more dangerous because people around you are getting drunk. I would never, as a female, work around people drinking.” ”
Left to right: Peri, Kacey, and Riley.