WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTAJ) – A new bill has been introduced that lawmakers hope will hold companies and individuals utilizing child labor more accountable.

U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) introduced the Children Harmed in Life-threatening or Dangerous (CHILD) Labor Act. The bill aims to strengthen the ability to combat child labor by creating stronger penalties for those who violate child labor laws.

Data shows companies employed 5,792 children in violation of child labor laws so far in 2023, and since 2019, child labor violations have increased by about 88%.

“Children do not belong in factories or working during hours when they should be studying, spending time with their families, or simply being children. Yet too many bad actors get away with forcing kids to work long hours and under dangerous conditions,” Senator Casey said in a press release. “It is long past time we bring our child labor laws into the 21st century and fight back against the employers, contractors, and subcontractors that violate them.”

If passed, the bill will enhance the Fair Labor Standards Act to increase the civil penalty amount for child labor violations from $11,000 to $151,380, or 10 times the inflation adjusted amount, increase the criminal penalty fine from $10,000 to $750,000, and require federal contracts to contain child labor provisions that prohibit the use of oppressive child labor.

The act will also authorize the Secretary of Labor to add warning labels to goods manufactured with child labor, issue a stop work order to companies or individuals in violation of child labor provisions and require the Secretary to give Congress an annual report on data and recommendations concerning overall trends for work-related injuries, illnesses or deaths.