It’s Summer and Florida Employers Are Hiring High School Students, But Do They Understand Child Labor Laws?
Many high school students are eager to earn some extra money working a summer job. And there are plenty of Florida employers who will gladly hire relatively low-wage, younger workers to meet their seasonal needs. But just because the kids are not in school, that does not mean they can be treated the same (legally) as adults who work full-time.
Here is a brief overview of federal and state child labor laws, and how they apply differently during summer vacation versus the normal school year.
Not All Minors Are Treated the Same (Legally Speaking)
First, it is important to understand that not all children–individuals under the age of 18–are classified the same. For the purposes of labor law, you need to treat children in three distinct groups:
- Children under 14 years of age;
- Minors who are 14 or 15 years old; and
- Minors who are 16 and 17 years old.
With respect to the first group–children under 14–the rules are more straightforward. These children cannot legally work at all. There are some limited exceptions, such as children who work for their parents, but for most Florida employers, anyone under 14 is off-limits as a potential employee in any capacity.
As for 14- and 15-year-olds, they can legally work up to 8 hours per day (and 40 hours per week) whenever school is not in session. However, they cannot work before 7 a.m. Federal law further states they cannot work past 7 p.m. before June 1, or past 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day (which is September 2 this year).
Finally, minors who are 16- or 17-years-old may work any amount of hours without following the limits applicable to 14- and 15-year-olds. This means they can work overtime hours.
Rules Applicable to All Child Workers
For any minor legally authorized to work in Florida, there are certain universal rules an employer must understand and follow. For instance, no minor may be scheduled to work more than six consecutive days in a given work-week under Florida law. The state also requires employers to give minor employees at least one 30-minute break for every 4 consecutive hours worked.
There are also certain “restricted occupations” that forbid minors from engaging in certain types of work. For example, no minor under the age of 18 can work a job requiring the operation of a motor vehicle. And minors in the 14-and-15-year-old also cannot work in most cooking or baking jobs.
It should also be noted there are a handful of industry-specific exemptions that allow minors under the age of 14 to work certain jobs, such as newspaper deliverer or performer in the entertainment industry.
This is just an overview of some of the rules applicable to child labor in Florida. If you have any questions about whether it is legal to hire a minor for a particular job, it is best to consult with a qualified Florida employment law attorney first.