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Florida Bill to Decrease Protections for Minor Workers


Teens have a lot to worry about. High schoolers are dealing with puberty, boyfriends and girlfriends, and thinking about college. They should not have to worry about the possibility of being put into unsafe situations and work and possibly getting seriously injured or killed.

Unfortunately, serious workplace accidents are a real possibility for Florida teens due to a new bill that is being pushed to the Senate. The bill, SB 460, would allow minors over the age of 16 to work non-clerical jobs on residential construction sites. The bill recently cleared its final committee stop in a 13-4 vote and is now heading to the Senate floor.

SB 460 was written by lobbyists for the Florida Home Builders Association and Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida. Both these organizations are in favor of anti-worker policies and are against raising the minimum wage.

This bill has drawn opposition from labor organizations. It is part of a larger bill about career and technical education programs in schools, and supervised courses in the construction industry are included. Under federal law, those under the age of 18 are barred from most jobs on construction sites. There are some exceptions for minors who are employed as part of a government-approved student learner program or apprenticeship.

The bill has drawn criticism, as it is coming at a time when child labor violations in the United States and in Florida have been on the rise. The number of minors in the United States who  are employed in violation of the law has increased 88% since 2019.

Critics of the bill include the Florida Parent Teachers Association, who have warned of potential safety risks. The private construction industry accounts for the highest number of workplace fatalities in Florida.

The bill has already been amended. The original version would have allowed teens 16 and older to work on both residential and commercial construction sites. It also would have allowed teens 16 and older to work on roofs and scaffolding. As amended, the bill would instead only allow those teens to work in residential construction and no more than six feet off the ground.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, child labor violations are very common in the construction industry. Sen. Keith Perry, who is co-sponsoring the bill, argued that if employers are breaking the law already, this bill would not change that. He claims that people who break the law are not going to follow the law anyway, whether this bill is passed or not. Ironically, Perry owns a roofing business that has been cited for wage theft in the past.

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Allowing minors on construction sites is not a good idea. Many adults have been injured and killed while working in the industry. Plus, lowering the age allows children to be exploited even more.

As a general contractor, you need to keep your employees safe. You need to be aware of local, state, and federal laws. Contact a Florida construction lawyer from Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. for help with any legal issues you may face. Schedule a consultation by filling out the online form or calling 561-626-8880.


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