HARRISBURG – Legislation to address a problem plaguing employers across Pennsylvania garnered unanimous passage in the House this week, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Brett Miller (R-East Hempfield).
House Bill 764
removes a double standard in hiring practices for state-licensed and non-licensed businesses providing services for minors.
“As employers across Pennsylvania are already struggling to find enough people to hire, those offering seasonal employment to minors are being hit doubly-hard,” Miller said. “This legislation would significantly help affected businesses and public agencies to bring on the seasonal employees they need and help college-age and teen workers to actually be able to start work and earn a paycheck.”
According to Pennsylvania statute, any employees who will be working with minors in any capacity are required to have a criminal history background check, a child abuse history clearance check, and an FBI background check. The criminal history check and child abuse history check typically have 24-hour turnarounds. The FBI background check, however, has taken up to five weeks to complete.
During those weeks, prospective employees at non-licensed facilities cannot start any of their duties. This means many employers have a difficult time retaining these prospective employees who, because they cannot afford to wait multiple weeks to begin work, seek employment elsewhere with an employer that does not require this lengthy delay.
“This is a substantial challenge for all employers but especially seasonal employers who rely on teens and college-age workers to staff their programs and facilities as many of these workers are understandably reluctant to forfeit a significant portion of their summer employment period waiting on the results of their FBI background checks,” Miller noted. “This issue was brought to my attention by an employer in my district who hires many seasonal employees. Between this current onerous regulation and difficulties in hiring due to the pandemic, many small businesses are facing continuing challenges in finding employees to fill necessary positions.”
Miller’s legislation would allow non-licensed facilities and state-licensed facilities to have equitable employment standards, and thereby create an equal playing field in attracting employees. This bill ensures that safeguards to protect children are in place and on par with those required for regulated childcare providers. Furthermore, the employee is not permitted to work alone with children and must work in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee while awaiting the return of the FBI clearance.
Thousands of employees and thousands upon thousands of young people will benefit from this bill as public and private parks and recreation agencies, public and private pools, public parks, school districts, colleges, religious centers, museums, environmental centers, campgrounds, golf courses, and many more will be enabled to be properly staffed so they can provide safe and valuable programs, services and activities to young people all across the Commonwealth.
The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Rep. Brett Miller
41st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives