Skip to Content
background texture image

Public Policy Update: New Law Expands Workforce Options

July 14, 2023 | Public Policy

State Policy Update

On July 1st, many bills that were passed during the 2023 legislative session officially became law. A top question we have received on the new laws relates to changes in Iowa’s youth employment laws. For your reference, we listed the changes in this updated law (SF542) below.


  • Iowa Child Labor Permits will no longer be required. 
  • Minors under 16 can work the following times and hours:  
  • When school is in session: anytime 7:00am to 9:00pm, 6-hour shift on school days, 8-hour shift on weekend days, 30-minute break required after 5 hours worked, and 28 total hours per week. 
  • When school is NOT in session: anytime 7:00am to 11:00pm, 8-hour shift, 30-minute break required after 5 hours worked, and 40 total hours per week. 
  • A committee will be created to study the possibility of letting teens 14 and older get a special driver’s permit to drive to work, like the existing law that allows students ages 14½ or older to obtain a special permit to drive to school. 
  • Individuals over 16 are not subject to hour limits. 
  • Individuals over 16 can serve alcohol in restaurants, with parental permission. To mitigate potential risks with serving alcohol, the new law requires they be always in the line of sight of two adult employees when serving alcohol and they can only serve alcohol in restaurants when the kitchen is open.  
  • Iowa employers may apply for a waiver for 16- and 17-year-olds to participate in approved work-based learning or work-related programs that were previously barred from doing, including certain hazardous work activities under certain conditions. Teens injured on the job can seek benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation program.  

For more information and a link to the Waiver Application, please see the Iowa Workforce Development page.

Federal Policy Update

Earlier this year we joined a national coalition organized by the U.S. Chamber that calls on Congress to act on immigration reform this year. The LIBERTY (Legal Immigration and Border Enforcement Reform This Year) Campaign asks Congress to address the challenges at our borders and the critical workforce shortage throughout our country.  

According to data provided by the U.S. Chamber, it will take until the year 2035 for some individuals who have recently crossed the border and requested asylum to be scheduled to appear in court. This is due to the 2,097,244 backlogged cases in the U.S. immigration courts. As another example, the U.S. government is currently processing employment-based visas for skilled workers from India that were originally filed on or prior to January 2009. These skilled workers, their families and employers have been waiting for 14+ years. We believe that taking over a decade for a skilled worker to migrate legally or for people to obtain a day in court is a clear indication that our immigration system is in desperate need of reform. 

The Economic Alliance continues our longtime advocacy for immigration reform. The impact of our worker shortage crosses every industry, every business size, and every skill set category. To meet current and future labor demands, we must ensure skilled, qualified workers can move to and work in Iowa.  

Get Involved

Click here to learn more about the impact of immigration on our state and region. Click here to join the LIBERTY Campaign and advocate on our federal delegation to act this year on immigration reform.