Licensing restrictions are housed in individual states’ statutory or administrative laws. At first, these seemingly innocent laws appear to simply define what a specific occupation is and what a practitioner of the occupation may do as well as establish conditions for entry into an occupation. However, there is a sinister side to occupational licensing.
Occupational licensing has been one of the fastest-growing forms of labor market regulation in the world. Licensing can influence wages, the speed at which workers find employment, pensions, health benefits, and prices. These costs associated with licensure, in turn, reduce economic output, access, quality, and the number of choices for consumers of services and goods.
Disadvantaged consumers or lower-income families seeking to receive licensure are particularly affected by the barriers and consequences associated with occupational licensing. For example, restrictions on license portability from state to state are especially burdensome for this population as are the expensive education requirements associated with licensure.
In an ideal world, occupational licensing would be nearly abolished. States would scrap almost all laws applying to licensure and in their absence, allow the free market or a privatized certification process to fill the role licensure once served. Such a world is much better suited to fulfill the purpose that occupational licensing is attempting to achieve. It provides for an increased amount of autonomy for workers and indicates a move towards a society that values personal liberty.
Unfortunately, many states, including Utah, are unwilling to make the large-scale legislative changes that are necessary for an idealized world free of poorly constructed licensure laws to be realized. In the absence of major reform, states like Utah must make commonsense changes that reduce the barriers occupational licensing imposes and the strain it puts on communities.
One such commonsense change that should immediately be undertaken by Utah’s lawmakers, and lawmakers in other states, pertains to laws about the suspension of an individual’s occupational license.
In Utah, specifically, when an individual has their occupational license suspended, it will remain suspended for a minimum of ninety days. This section of code does not indicate the clear presence of an appeals process or for any recourse on the part of the individual whose license is suspended. The unwavering nature of this law means that people who have wrongfully had their license suspended must wait three months to be able to practice their profession again. During that time, they may suffer lost income and any associated consequences.
This occupational licensing law must be repealed and replaced. Utah should refrain from imposing any form of a minimum suspension and should allow those who have had their licenses suspended to appeal the duration of their suspension.