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Florida bill aimed at rolling back child labor law restrictions


Photo: JackF/iStockphoto

Tallahassee, FL — Recently introduced legislation in Florida would lift restrictions on the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work, and when.

Introduced by Rep. Linda Chaney (R-St. Pete Beach) on Sept. 18, H.B. 49 would amend current labor law. Sixteen- and 17-year-old workers aren’t allowed to work before 6:30 a.m. or after 11 p.m., or for more than eight hours when they have school the next day. They’re also prohibited from working more than 30 hours a week when school is in session. The bill would lift these restrictions.

Florida is the 13th state this year to introduce legislation that would roll back labor laws intended to protect minors, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

In a blog post, EPI notes that the bill “proposes rolling back long-standing state standards adopted more than a century ago in response to widespread exploitation of children” and contends it will “harm Florida’s poorest youth and their families.”

The institute also is concerned that the bill would tweak the language in existing Florida law concerning 14- and 15-year-old workers. As currently written, the law states that 14- and 15-year-olds “shall not” work before 7 a.m., after 7 p.m., more than 15 hours a week during the school year or three hours a day on school days. The bill would amend the “shall not” portion to “may not.”

The blog post authors write that “the possibility that bill authors intend to make standards on work hours for the youngest teens ‘optional’ for employers to follow is especially alarming.”

The bill also would prohibit counties and municipalities in the state from adopting or enforcing certain labor ordinances that are more stringent than the state law.

The legislation, referred to the House Commerce Committee on Oct. 5, will be up for consideration during the next legislative session, set to begin in January. If signed into law, the bill would go into effect July 1.

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