What Happens If Child Labor Laws Are Broken In Florida?
If you employ young people in your business, you know how valuable they can be. Young people play a vital role in Florida's enormous travel and tourism industry. It's difficult to envision how businesses like coffee shops, restaurants, amusement parks and beaches could operate without teenage employees. The young workers also receive important benefits: in addition to a paycheck, working helps them gain valuable experience that will benefit them when they are ready to enter the workforce as adults.
There are extensive and detailed government rules and regulations, known as "child labor laws", that place numerous limitations on youth employment at both the federal and state level. The penalties for violations of these laws can be severe, so you should be aware of them.
Overview of Federal Child Labor Laws
The federal child labor laws, known as the Fair Labor Standards Act, apply to virtually every business in the United States. The federal law specifically limits the hours that 14- and 15-year old worker can work:
- between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., extended to 9 p.m. during the summer;
- No more than 3 hours on a school day and 18 hours during a school week; and
- No more than 8 hours on a non-school day and 40 hours during a non-school week.
The federal law does not limit hours for 16- and 17-year olds.
The federal rules also prohibit teenagers from working in hazardous occupations such as manufacturing, roofing and mining. There is also a list of approved occupations that cover many of the jobs in the Florida tourist industry such as restaurant work and lifeguarding.
If your business is found to have violated the federal child labor laws, the penalties can be substantial. If you are assessed a civil fine, it could cost you up to $13,000 per violation. If you are found guilty of a criminal violation, the fines could be as high as $10,000 per violation and you could be facing six months in jail.
Overview of Florida Child Labor Laws
Florida child labor laws supplement federal law and provide some additional requirements. For example, your business is required to display a poster explaining the child labor laws that is visible to your employees. You are also required to keep records on your employees that prove their age, such as a birth certificate or driver's license. Florida bans minors from working in positions that involve alcoholic beverages or the adult entertainment industry and prohibits them from working more than six consecutive days.
Allowable work hours for minors under Florida rules are more flexible than the federal regulations. 16- and 17-year-olds can work until 11 p.m. and up to 30 hours per week during the school year.
The penalties for violation of Florida child labor laws vary, with fines ranging from $500 to $2,500 depending on the type and severity of the violation. For example, a first violation for not posting the child labor poster is $500 and the fine for not having a record of the minor's age can be up to $2,000. If you are charged with a criminal violation of the child labor laws, you could be found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor. The criminal penalty for that offense could be a jail term of 60 days and a $500 fine.
You can avoid a lot of trouble and expense if you take some simple precautions to avoid violating the child labor laws. Simply posting the child labor law poster, keeping records of your employees' age and making sure that minor employees do not work more than the permitted number of hours and do not work in prohibited occupations will go a long way towards ensuring that you do not violate the child labor laws.
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