February 26, 2024

Testimony on HB 49 Before the Florida Senate Rules Committee

The testimony below was provided during the Florida Senate Rules Committee meeting on House Bill (HB) 49, legislation that would undo child labor protections in state law. Specifically, the testimony is on the strike-all amendment.

While we would rather the Legislature not roll back child labor laws at all, this amendment does make the legislation less harmful.

It keeps some types of breaks in, preserves the existing work curfew, and does not completely remove current daily and weekly work limits. It also does not undercut local governments, as HB 49 originally did. We are appreciative of Sen. Burgess and his office for meeting with us and considering amendments.

That being said, we still have concerns. For one, this adds 16- and 17-year-old home- and virtual-school students to the running list of youth cut out of Florida’s child labor laws. Letting this group of teens work during traditional school hours is one thing, given the differing hours they can study or attend class — but letting employers schedule them for unlimited hours, overnight, and without breaks is quite another.

Moreover, we are disappointed to see that this amendment still allows all 16- and 17-year-olds to be scheduled more than six days in a row during the school year. Six days is a lot for an adult to commit to, let alone youth who are also juggling school demands.

We also see no compelling reason why a teen should be working longer than 8 hours per shift when they have school the next day, just because their shift falls on a Sunday or a holiday. They still have to get up for school and will be starting their week with limited sleep or time to complete assignments. And teens already need more sleep than adults, given their developing bodies and minds.

One final point to consider. There is already an imbalance between work and school, and Florida’s absenteeism rates are soaring at their highest levels in 14 years. To illustrate this — the typical school year is five days per week with holiday breaks, daily lunch breaks, and summer vacation. Even with this amendment to HB 49, a work week could now be seven days per week with no guarantee of holiday or summer breaks — and if a shift is under eight hours, no meal breaks either.

So while we’re in favor of this amendment because it does make HB 49 less harmful, it still does not go far enough to protect Florida’s kids.

Downloadable Resources

There are no attachments currently.
No items found.