December 13, 2023

Statement from Florida Policy Institute on HB 49

The Florida House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee passed legislation (HB 49) that would roll back years of child labor protections. Florida Policy Institute (FPI) released the statement below on HB 49.

During a time when Florida lawmakers should be focused on implementing greater protections for all workers, not fewer, we are especially concerned that legislators are considering a bill that would undo crucial provisions of Florida’s child labor laws.

HB 49 would allow employers to further exploit teen workers in Florida. The legislation would, among other provisions, enable employers to schedule 16- and 17-year olds for 30-plus hour workweeks, overnight, and without breaks — even if they have school the following day.

As FPI pointed out in recent analysis, child labor law violations in Florida have already tripled over the last couple of years, with most occurring in the service, retail, and construction industries. Additionally, Florida already has a child-labor-law-waiver process for teens who want to work additional hours but bump against current regulations, calling into question the purpose of the bill.

Research points to many harmful impacts on student outcomes for working excessive hours during school weeks — from higher dropout rates and absenteeism, to car accidents caused by sleep deprivation. Our Legislature should be doing everything possible to protect children from workplace exploitation, and create an environment that promotes education.

HB 49 would be a giant leap backward, risking the health and safety of Florida teens.

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