New law streamlines youth employment by ending work permits, changing to digital system

Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As of Thursday, there will be a change in tracking and reporting youth employment in Indiana.

The Indiana Department of Labor (DOL) made the announcement back in May for people under the age of 18 who are looking for jobs.

“We are certainly very excited to have this new system,” said Michael Myers, DOL’s Bureau of Youth Employment. “Indiana will be replacing the work permit process that has been in place for so many years for all minors.”

In place of the old system is a new Youth Employment System, or “YES”, which requires employers to register their miner employees in the digital program. The change means schools will no longer be issuing work permits.

“Technically, wherever the employer was located they had to get a work permit from the school district that the employer was located,” said State Senator Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), who authored the law. “It may not even be where the child went to school. It was really outdated and inefficient.”

Indiana employers with more than five minors will track and report these employees with the YES system.

“It’s so interactive for the employers and every responsive and a robust program,” Myers said. “All can simply be done on their cell phones at work. Rather than having to send the minor in to get a work permit or wait a day or two or three before they can come back with that work permit.”

The new system cuts out the middleman for registering youth works as well as for filing complaints against employers not following youth labor laws. All of the same labor laws are still in existence but where people would previously have to file violations with the Indiana Department of Education, who would in turn report violations to the Indiana Department of Labor, complaints will go directly to the DOL.

“There’s an elevated scale for the more times you commit violations, but I think the maximum fine is a $400 per minor employee for not registering your employee youth,” Messmer said. “Now they’ve got the information, they know who have the employers hired, and they can get to that employer and monitor that compliance with the work rules for minors much easier.”

According to Messmer, it will also make it easier for the department to gather stastic information.

“This will give us data that we never had before,” said Messmer. “There would have been no mechanism in place to collect data on youth in the workforce today. Now we will be able to get those reports annually from the Department of Labor.”

Messmer said the main group asking for this legislation was Indiana employers who complained that the work permit process was slow and clunky. However, when the DOL heard of discussions on the topic they were eager to jump in and suggest changes.

“It was really driven by them,” Messmer said. “As we went through the House and Senate hearings, we finetune some of the processes from feedback from employers during the 2020 session, but really the crux of the idea and the registration system was driven by feedback from the Department of Labor.”

As of Tuesday, DOL had more than 5,000 Indiana employers set up accounts in YES to date and have registered more than 33,000 minor employees.

Employers with fewer than five minors working for them are not required to use the new system. All employers must still comply with the teen work hour restrictions.

To learn more about the YES system click here.

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