Florida Latest to Propose Changes to Child Labor Laws: Extended Work Hours and Riskier Jobs Considered

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Two proposed bills in the Florida legislature are swiftly advancing, aiming to ease child labor regulations by enabling teenagers to work longer hours and in potentially riskier occupations. 


The first bill, titled “Employment and Curfew of Minors” (HB 49), introduced in September 2023 and currently in committee, seeks to permit 16- and 17-year-olds to work up to 40 hours a week (30 hours currently), permitting employers to schedule 16- and 17-year-olds to work from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., exceed eight hours of work per day (even on school days), and surpass six consecutive workdays in a week, allowing over 30 hours of work weekly throughout the year. 


The bill lifts work limitations for homeschooled, virtually schooled students, and dropouts, enabling them to work while school is in session. It removes specific work protections for students and prevents local curfews from conflicting with extended work hours. Additionally, the bill requires 16- and 17-year-olds to have breaks on par with adults, diverging from the existing law that prescribes 30-minute breaks every four hours.


The second bill, approved by a state senate committee on January 17, could allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work on residential construction projects but not on roofs or scaffolding, provided the projects are under six feet.


Additional Information:


  • Critics suggest that the relaxed child labor laws may be a response to a labor shortage triggered by a previous anti-immigration bill. 
  • This trend is attributed to declining youth labor force participation over the past two decades, as more minors prioritize education, prompting lawmakers to enact more lenient labor legislation.
  • The move coincides with a surge in child labor violations nationwide, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting a 69% increase since 2018. In 2023 alone, there were 955 reported cases, a 14% rise from the previous year, resulting in over $8 million in penalties. Florida, in particular, saw a threefold increase in child labor violations from 2019 to 2022. 
  • At least 10 states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa, New Jersey and New Hampshire, have proposed bills to loosen child labor laws between 2021 and 2023.
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