Understanding Common Child Labor Law Violations in Florida
Cashiers, baristas, fast food workers, restaurant servers, dishwashers, and host/hostesses are all common jobs for high school students and employees under the age of 18. Employees that are 17 and under have special considerations under Florida child labor laws. These laws are in place to regulate the employment and work hours related to young workers. Generally, these regulations depend on the age of the child, the type of work they are required to perform, and the total amount of work they perform during a workweek.
In this editorial, a Tampa wage and hour attorney will discuss child labor laws and the employer requirements when they hire these young workers. Remember, for any of your wage and hour needs, our Tampa wage and hour attorneys are standing by.
What Is Considered a Minor?
A worker that is 17 years of age or younger is considered a minor in Florida and is subject to child labor laws. Although there are some exceptions to child labor laws, the vast majority of young workers apply. Any employer that hires an employee that is 17 years of age or younger must obtain and keep records related to the worker’s age. This includes a photocopy of the child’s birth certificate and driver's license (if they have one), among other documents. Employers that violate child labor laws or fail to keep accurate records pertaining to young workers may be subject to criminal charges and civil penalites.
What About Workers 13 Years Old and Younger?
Generally, children 13 years and younger cannot work. As we mentioned above, there are some exceptions to this rule, including domestic work, farm work, work under a parent’s supervision (within reason), or work in the entertainment industry.
What About 14 and 15 Year Olds?
14 and 15 year olds are the youngest employees that can work in most industries. With that being said, there are significant restrictions on the hours they can work. During school days, 14 and 15 year olds in Florida cannot work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. Their total weekly hours need to be capped at 15 during school season, and they should not work more than three hours on any school day. For the holiday season or summer breaks, there is more flexibility for 14 and 15 year olds. They can work eight hour days and up to 40 hours in a workweek from the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
There are also certain job restrictions for 14 and 15 year olds. For example, these workers cannot work in positions that pose a significant amount of risk to their safety, like operating heavy machinery, working in most construction jobs or a manufacturing plant, or operating a motor vehicle. For a full list of hazardous occupations in Florida that a 14 or 15 year old cannot take part in, you can read more here.
What About 16 and 17 Year Olds?
Although 16 and 17 year olds still have restrictions on the total hours and when they can work, Florida child labor laws are a bit more flexible for minors of the ages of 16 and 17. For example, 16 and 17 year old employees can work from the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and up to 30 hours per week when school is in session. Unless the worker has obtained a student learner exception, the vast majority of young workers cannot work in hazardous occupations, including roofing jobs, heavy machinery positions, and electrician work, among other restrictions.
What About Other Restrictions?
Although the above information is a solid starting point to understand the basic foundation of child labor laws in Florida, there are many more laws related to child labor requirements. For example, workers 17 years and younger cannot work in positions related to the sale of alcoholic beverages or the adult entertainment industry. Unlike their coworkers that are 18 and older, they are required to take a 30-minute break after working for four consecutive hours. A worker 17 years of age and younger also cannot work more than six straight days in a workweek.
What Are Common Violations?
There are many other laws related to child labor laws, including those that require the employer to post child labor laws in their place of employment and laws that allow a young worker to legally waive their right to these work restrictions under certain circumstances. If an employer is violating any of the previously mentioned laws, they may face criminal charges and fines for their violations. Some common types of violations include:
- Failure to post child labor law posters in an accessible area of the workplace
- Failure to obtain and keep records of workers under the age of 18
- Exceeding the number of work hours a minor can work in a workday or a workweek
- Requiring workers 17 and younger to perform hazardous tasks in the workplace
Although young workers are not allowed to work over 40 hours in a workweek, many employers require workers of all ages to work more than 40 hours in a workweek. For workers 17 and under, this is a violation of child labor laws; however, for workers of any age, an employer that refuses to pay the overtime rate of one-and-one-half times regular hourly compensation is still violating the law. If you are in this position and owed unpaid overtime, consult a Tampa overtime lawyer to learn more.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.