Miami Herald (Sunday)



putting some distance between them and the other chamber.

Here’s what you need to know about the bill and what’s to come.


The bill, HB49, would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work more than eight hours in a day even if school is the next day, or more than 30 hours a week when school is in session.

It originally eliminated all restrictio­ns on 16- and 17-year-olds working in the early morning or late at night. But after pushback, Chaney amended the bill to keep rules limiting teens that age from working later than 11 p.m. or earlier than 6 a.m. on a day before school, similar to current law.

Teens who are homeschool­ed, attend virtual school or have dropped out of school would be allowed to work during school hours under the bill.

It would eliminate the requiremen­t that teenagers be granted breaks every four hours of work. The bill says teens should get breaks in the same manner as other employees — which can mean no breaks. Florida employers, under law, are not required to offer food or rest breaks.

Before the House vote, Democrats presented 10 amendments that sought to water down the legislatio­n or reintroduc­e some guardrails. All were voted down or disqualifi­ed.


The conservati­ve advocacy group Foundation for Government Accountabi­lity wrote the draft legislatio­n and passed it along to a Chaney aide, according to records from the Florida House of Representa­tives.

The organizati­on has also been behind other rollbacks of child labor laws in other states.

The foundation gets significan­t funding from billionair­e Richard Uihlein, who has donated more than $2 million to Gov.

Ron DeSantis over the years.


Chaney said the bill helps businesses and offers teenagers opportunit­y. She stressed that the bill would not change any of the state’s restrictio­ns on teens working hazardous jobs.

Chaney said teenagers want to work, but restrictio­ns discourage employers from hiring them and prevent them from getting the hours they want.

“This bill gets government out of their way to choose the path that’s best for them and their families,” she said.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Associatio­n backs the bill. Samantha Padgett, the group’s vice president for government relations, said members say current restrictio­ns are outdated and make staffing particular­ly difficult on Sunday evenings.

Padgett said that mandated break restrictio­ns for teens are “especially challengin­g in the restaurant space” because they often fall in the middle of a rush period.

She said employers would hire more 16- and 17-year-olds if the restrictio­ns were softened.


Several teachers traveled to Tallahasse­e to say they fear studentswo­rking longer will mean less time to focus on their schoolwork, and they talked about how their students are already fatigued during class.

Other opponents feared that under the proposed changes, a teenager could be fired if they asked not to be scheduled for longer hours ahead of a final exam or other academic need. Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston, brought up her own experience working at a Winn-Dixie while in junior high school. Bartleman said her boss threatened that she would lose her job if she didn’t stay on late.

“That was incredibly scary for me, because I needed that money,” she said.

Democrats who spoke in opposition to the bill on Thursday pointed to an existing rise in child labor violations in the state. Florida’s child labor violations increased by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data conducted by the Florida Policy Institute, which opposes the legislatio­n.

Rep. Ashley Gantt, DMiami, said the children who would be most exploited are poor children.


The Senate legislatio­n, sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhill­s, would also affect when teenagers can work but has several key difference­s compared with its House counterpar­t.

“The bill before you is very different than another bill that we’ve maybe seen through the process,” Burgess said during a Senate

committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Senate bill, SB1596, keeps some of the state’s child labor laws intact, including the ban on 16and 17-year-olds working more than eight hours on a day that directly precedes a school day, and a prohibitio­n on working more than 30 hours a week during the school year. But it creates exceptions allowing teens to work more than eight hours on holidays and Sundays.

The bill would let teens work as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as midnight on days before school.

And it specifies that any employer who schedules a minor in violation of the law is subject to a seconddegr­ee misdemeano­r or fines.

In the House bill, homeschool­ed teenagers could work during school hours, but not early in the morning or late at night. The Senate bill, though, would let a home-schooled teen work early in the morning as well as during school hours.


Another proposed bill this session, filed by Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahasse­e, and Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart, has stirred controvers­y.

The legislatio­n, SB460 and HB917, would have allowed 16- and 17-yearolds to work on roofing and scaffoldin­g. But after heavy pushback and input from stakeholde­rs, the bills were amended to say teenagers cannot work on roofs or ladders above six feet. It still allows them to work on constructi­on sites if they have an Occupation­al Safety and Health Administra­tion certificat­ion and are under supervisio­n.

The Associated Builders and Contractor­s and the Florida Home Builders Associatio­n, two highpowere­d industry groups, helped develop some of the bill’s ideas. Teenagers can already work on constructi­on sites as part of a school program.

“The issue and the purpose of the bill is there are vacuums of that opportunit­y throughout the state,” said Carol Bowen, the chief lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractor­s of Florida.

Critics still are concerned that having teenagers on constructi­on sites or working around roofing, even at ground level, could cause them harm, open the door to weak supervisio­n and violate federal standards.

The House and Senate bills still have two committees to move through before they can go to their respective floors for full votes.

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