March 8, 2024

Statement on Senate Passage of HB 49

Florida Policy Institute released the statement below on House Bill (HB) 49, legislation passed by the Florida Senate on March 7, 2024, that would roll back child labor protections in state law.

The child labor provisions in the bill approved by the Senate, when compared to the original House legislation, pose fewer threats to teens’ health and safety.

However, the legislation would still allow employers to schedule 16- and 17-year-olds for more than six days in a row during the school year. It also carves home- and virtual-school students out of state child labor laws entirely, meaning they could be scheduled for overnight shifts on a school night or for more than 30 hours in a school week, putting their education and well-being at risk.

Worse, right before the legislation was approved by the Senate, lawmakers added an amendment preempting local governments from requiring their subcontractors to have heat exposure prevention measures for their outdoor employees, like water, breaks, and shade. As FPI previously noted, this amendment would disproportionately impact agricultural workers, construction workers, and Florida youth working at outdoor venues.

We’ve been a staunch opponent of HB 49 since the bill was first introduced last fall. While we do not support any rollback of long-held child labor protections, the bill passed last night rightly preserves the existing work curfew for 16- and 17-year-olds in state law, maintains breaks for longer shifts, and does not completely remove current daily and weekly work limits.

Florida Policy Institute, our partners in the child well-being and labor spaces, educators, and parents had worked hard to build awareness around and advocate against the legislation’s most concerning provisions. Thanks to that sustained upswell of opposition, the final bill — in terms of child labor  provisions — does not pose the same degree of risk to Florida’s youth as the original version. However, the unrelated provision banning local heat protections tacked on moments before the Senate floor vote makes HB 49 worse by jeopardizing the health, safety, and lives of workers — disproportionately immigrant workers.

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