Teens could work up to 7 days a week as Senate panel advances bill
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'The world's changed quite a lot from 1986 when this law was first enacted.'

A Senate panel approved a weakened bill that allows 16- and-17-year-olds to work a job seven consecutive days a week, beyond the six days currently allowed.

The Senate Rules Committee approved HB 49, which proposes changes to child labor laws, such as how many days a week 16- and-17-year-olds can work. However, the amended version of the bill did not go as extreme as lifting the restrictions that kept those young people from working longer hours on school days.

Current law says those 16- and 17-year-olds can only work between 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. The previous iteration of the Senate version of the bill had sought to change that to 5:30 a.m. to midnight, but its sponsor, Sen. Danny Burgess, said that had been removed to leave the status quo.

If students want to work more than 30 hours a week during the school week, they must get a waiver signed by their school Superintendent or parent under the bill.

Burgess said he envisioned home-schooled or online students taking advantage of the loosened work rules if the bill passed.

“The world’s changed quite a lot from 1986 when this law was first enacted,” said Burgess, a Republican from Zephyrhills, “This is a reflection of how there’s a lot more flexibility in time, there’s a lot more choice … so not everything is a one-size-fits-all product. … This is a reflection of that.”

But Sen. Victor Torres and other Democrats were not satisfied with Burgess’ explanation as they voiced concerns about students juggling homework and their jobs working seven days a week.

“The question I have is, why are we doing this bill?” Torres asked.

Burgess argued safeguards were still in place since students were capped at 30 hours a week without the waiver and couldn’t work more than eight hours a day when there’s school the next day.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said Florida’s bills are part of a nationwide effort to weaken child labor laws. Florida was the 16th state to introduce bills in the past two years, according to the EPI, a nonpartisan think tank.

The original HB 49 had been drafted by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank from Naples that has been pushing to expand the workforce and fight against the Medicaid expansion, according to a More Perfect Union story co-written by former Orlando Sentinel investigative reporter Jason Garcia.

Not all the bills expanding child labor laws have gone through this Session.

A provision in SB 460 that would have otherwise allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to work on roofs at residential and commercial construction sites was later taken out. That was taken out and tweaked, so the bill bans teens from working on commercial sites and jobs with scaffolding, roofs and ladders over 6 feet.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


6 comments

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 27, 2024 at 7:20 am

    What? Only 7 days? Why not make it 8? Kids these days are so lazy.

  • Ron Forrest Ron

    February 27, 2024 at 7:23 am

    G0P always saying” do this for the kids, do that for the kids, social media blah blah blah” but enhancing the permissible work week is what the G0P actually does for kids.

    Now kids will be able to be put to work on the farms once the public schools are completely shut down and only rich kids can get edumacated no more.

    Yes, rich kids. Not (just) white kids. Rich kids. The G0P isn’t racist. Not one iota. The G0P is classist. It’s just most G0P voters that are racist.

    • Michael K

      February 27, 2024 at 10:18 am

      The GOP does things TO kids, not FOR kids. Cruelty is the point, control is the goal.

  • Elmo

    February 27, 2024 at 8:23 am

    This legislature will do anything to save the hotel and restaurant industry a buck by ensuring that the lowest possible wages are paid to hard working Florida residents. It’s the Republican way!

    • Dont Say FLA

      February 27, 2024 at 8:58 am

      True dat. And it’s not even needed since un-elected House Speaker Trump shut the border bill down, leaving the border as he prefers it, providing an infinite inflow of undocumented workers too scared to tell any stories of wage and/or physical abuse, while also allowing an infinite outflow of guns and ammo to continue the chaos that ensure the inflow of undocumented workers remains infinite.

  • Linda Lou

    February 28, 2024 at 7:29 am

    Sickening and shameful. The comments here are spot on.

Comments are closed.


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