TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new bill in the Florida state legislature would remove several restrictions on working hours for 16 and 17-year-olds. The legislation, titled ‘CS/HB 49 Employment and Curfew of Minors’ repeals a number of policies designed to limit child labor.
The main effect of the bill would be to allow full-time work hours for employees 16 and older, down from the current line of 18 and older. It would also repeal a law banning 16 and 17-year-olds from working seven straight days or more, as well as allow all-night shifts even on a school night. Furthermore, it would remove a law that employees under 18 have to have a 30-minute break for every four straight hours worked, now making that mandatory only for workers 15 and younger.
The bill was filed by state Representative Linda Chaney, a Republican from St. Pete Beach. She argues that 16 and 17-year-olds more closely resemble adults than children, given that they drive and carry out other adult responsibilities. She filed the bill on September 18th, and it has since been bounced around different labor committees within the state House of Representatives.
Another legislator, Democrat Anna Eskamani of Orlando, objects on the grounds that the state legislature treats 16 and 17-year-olds as children in other spheres – including abortion. Anyone under 18 seeking an abortion in Florida must obtain parental permission and do so within the state’s legal restrictions on the procedure. “They’re mature enough to work overtime at a 7-Eleven past midnight on a school night, but they’re not mature enough to decide whether or not to parent,” she said.
The bill is among several that will be considered when the Florida legislature convenes on January 9th. It has currently received generally positive reception by lawmakers, but its ultimate fate will be decided if it’s put to a vote in both chambers, and if it makes it to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk.