TRENTON – State lawmakers have an idea for easing the labor crunch: Let kids work overtime this summer.

Not all kids, just 16- and 17-year-olds. And they’d need written permission from a parent or legal guardian.

Those teenagers are now limited to 40 hours of work a week, but legislation advancing at the Statehouse would raise that limit to 50 hours a week through Labor Day.

Laura Gunn, vice president of government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, supported the plan as way to in particular bolster Shore businesses in position for a great year as COVID-19 fears and restrictions recede.

“Especially with the pandemic and the tourism season among us, we really appreciate the sponsor putting this bill forward,” Gunn said. “I think it’ll help, especially with the tourism industry booming right now and not being able to hire enough people. With kids being out this summer, this would enable employers to hire more of them and to help the tourism industry boom.”

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State law limits teenagers to eight hours of work in a day, six days per week, so it’s not clear if a teen actually could even reach the proposed 50-hour limit.

The bill, S3963/A5898, was endorsed Wednesday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. It is scheduled for a vote in the full Assembly on Monday and could be added to that day’s Senate agenda.

Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-Bergen, voted to abstain, the only lawmakers on the Assembly panel to not support it.

“I would like to see some restrictions on when the students could take part in this,” Rooney said. “I wouldn’t want to see them working until 11 o’clock at night during school season. So, I have an issue with that.”

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The bill would apply beginning on the last day of a minor’s school year and end on Labor Day. Some schools begin before Labor Day, so there could be overlap at the end of the summer.

Under current state law, 16- and 17-year-olds can’t work beyond 11 p.m. when school is in session. There are exceptions during vacation season and on weekends and for restaurants and seasonal businesses.

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