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Florida to roll back century-old child labor laws

  • Published on
    October 12, 2023
  • Category:
    Child Slavery, Law & Policy
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As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Florida has become the 16th U.S. State to roll back workplace protection laws for children with a proposed Republican bill. It would remove all work guidelines for 16- and 17-year-olds, eliminating the prohibition to work more than eight hours on school nights and over 30 hours a week throughout the school year. Furthermore, local authorities would be prevented from passing stricter laws.

Negative consequences

While Florida’s State Rep. Linda Chaney intends for the bill to “provide teenagers with the flexibility to work whatever hours they deem fits best with their schedule and financial goals,” experts warn that it could aggravate graduation rates and harm lower-income families.

Furthermore, the rolling back of child labor laws is tied to the crackdown on undocumented workers in Florida. With Gov. Ron DeSantis having signed an anti-illegal immigration law earlier this year, businesses are required to screen their employers’ immigration status thoroughly. This, in addition to COVID-19, has led to a labor shortage, which is now set to be filled with children, an action heavily criticized by experts.

“We should be welcoming immigrants who are adults, who wish to contribute to our community and put food on our plates, not replace them with children. All of our kids deserve the right to quality education […], but this policy would set them up for exploitation.” – State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Moving backward

Child labor laws were first implemented in the early 1900s to protect children from hazardous work, for example, in cigar factories and agriculture.

“We know that certain jobs have proven dangerous and even fatal more often for youth and teens. That’s why those restrictions were put in place decades ago.” – Jennifer Sherer, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute.

However, rising violations have been found in the last five years, such as children working night shifts or being employed in poultry processing plants and construction sites – unsafe workplaces for children. On top of that, the number of States rolling back the laws is increasing, taking the U.S. back over a decade in time.

We will not let this happen without a fight. That’s why we are calling on U.S. states to repeal recent that weaken child labor protections. Join us in urging lawmakers to end their complicity in exploiting children in the United States!


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Dave Connell
Dave Connell
9 months ago

Charles Dickens and others in the 1800s wrote about child slavery and helped put a stop to it in the UK. Who would have guessed that modern day Republicans would be so keen to exploit child labour. Shame on the United States

9 months ago

This is crazy. Labor shortages should never ever be covered by children and adolescents. Please stop this.

Chris Gill
Chris Gill
9 months ago

The USA is going Right backwards to the 18th century, it seems…

Roos Demol
9 months ago

This is truly shocking. Paving the way for exploitation.

9 months ago

“There are two types of poverty in the world. The first type is due to the lack of food, clothing and shelter. The second type is the poverty of love and compassion. We need to deal with the second type of poverty first. If we have love and compassion, we will wholeheartedly serve and help those who lack food, clothing and shelter.”
– Amma

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