Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Latour figures the new Youth Employment System can only help companies in need.
Senate Act 409 dispenses with minor-employee work permits and requires employers who employ five or more minors under age 18 to begin registering those employees in the Indiana Dept. of Labor’s new Youth Employment System, or YES. A total of 91 Westfield employers have signed up so far. The law went into effect July 1. The system went live on June 1, which was earlier than originally anticipated, to give employers who meet the new law’s criteria time to set up accounts and begin using the system prior to July 1.
“We’re hearing from all of the companies in Westfield that there is a real shortage (of) available staff, so having this option is one additional tool in the toolkit that allows companies to reach out to all types of folks and invite them to apply for every kind of job imaginable,” Latour said.
Latour said the previous process was relatively easy, but there were several steps involved and paperwork needed to go through schools.
“This takes away a couple of those steps and allows for someone to go through the application process, be interviewed and then be hired relatively quickly instead of where they might have had to wait one or two weeks in the past getting all the paperwork in order,” Latour said. “I think that helps, anything that takes away a hurdle that prevents someone from thinking they have to go through this whole big process to get hired. Those that are younger in high school are just excited about the job. They don’t necessarily realize the paperwork involved.”
Latour said part-time retail or restaurant jobs typically offer the kind of flexibility students need to work after school or on the weekend.
“The fast-food industry, restaurants and some of the activity-type jobs have the flexibility to hire kids in high school,” Latour said.
One organization utilizing the new law is the Westfield Washington Public Library. Library pages, ages 14 to 18, sort and shelve library items and assist patrons.
“Being able to hire minors is great, because for the tasks they do, we only require them to be here for a couple of hours each day, and that kind of schedule wouldn’t be great for someone older that is looking for full-time work,” WWPL Children’s Library Assistant Sara Reitmeyer Perry said. “The Indiana Dept. of Labor’s Youth Employment System is great for employers and their employees as it is much more efficient. It eliminates the need for the minors to take physical paperwork to the schools to be signed, which can cause hiring delays. We also have homeschooled students and students who attend online school, so the new YES system is nice because you don’t have to figure out what might be different in getting the permit signed in a situation like that.”
Latour said several restaurants have had to close early or shorten hours because of staff shortages.
“They have manpower for the back-of-the-house stuff, the kitchen, but they don’t have the manpower to run the register in front, so they are leaning on drive-thrus to limited dining room hours,” Latour said. “I can think of at least a couple dozen companies in Westfield that have had to adjust their hours or shift things around the last six months to try to accommodate the shortage we are having with the workforce.”
An overlook of the new Youth Employment System law
The change in law was made during the Indiana General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session, and most changes went into effect in 2020, with the exception of the work permit elimination and new registration system. According to the Indiana Dept. of Labor, those were delayed to give schools, the Bureau of Youth Employment and employers time to adequately prepare for the change.
Michael Myers, director of the Indiana Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Youth Employment, said a broad outreach effort was made to inform employers about the change.
“After an employer has set up the business profile, they only need to input the minor’s name, age and hire date,” Myers stated. “Registering minors only takes about two minutes, and employers can access the registration app via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.”
Upon termination of employment, the employer must remove the minor’s information from the YES active-employee registry. The employer has three business days to complete each action.
Schools will continue to have the opportunity to monitor which employers are hiring minor employees in their communities through YES and can request public information in the system specific to their students. That will enable schools to continue to collaborate with employers to balance a student’s employment and academic loads throughout the school year.
The YES requirement does not impact the state’s work-hour requirement for minors. All employers must still comply with the Teen Work Hour Restrictions and Prohibited and Hazardous Occupation restrictions for minors.