So a family friend asks you to consider hiring his teenage daughter for the summer. Before your company offers a position to a minor in the hopes of providing a productive and positive summer work experience, be sure to take appropriate steps to ensure your company’s compliance with the various requirements and limitations imposed under both Florida and federal law.

Florida has certain rules and regulations for hiring minors between the ages of 14 and 17.  Certain restrictions are also imposed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  A brief summary of important criteria Florida employers should be aware of include:

Posting Requirements

Florida requires that all Florida employers who hire minors must display a poster in a conspicuous place on the property or place of employment notifying them of the Child Labor Laws.  The poster summarizing the applicable Child Labor Laws for Florida’s employers can be obtained through the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation’s website.

Summer Hour Limitations

The number of hours a minor can work is regulated under both Florida law and the FLSA. Employers are required to follow the stricter provisions when the laws differ.   However, during times when school is not in session, these limitations are loosened.  For example, during the summer from June 1st through Labor Day, 14 and 15 year-old minors may work up to 8 hours each day and 40 hours per week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Teenagers who are 16 and 17 may work unlimited hours during summer vacation and non-school weeks.

Breaks/Days

Under Florida law, no minor may work more than four (4) hours without a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal break.  This applies throughout the year, regardless of whether school is in or out of session.  Similarly, minors are not permitted to work more than six (6) consecutive days in any one week throughout the year.

 Safety/Hazardous Occupations

In an effort to ensure a safe working environment for minors, Florida has incorporated certain “hazardous occupations” of the FLSA into the Florida law and Child Labor Rule. As such, employers are prohibited from employing minors in certain occupations, and minors are not allowed to perform certain tasks.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Working on scaffolding, roofs or ladders above six feet
  • Operating power-driven meat processing machines to include meat and vegetable slicers
  • Operating power-driven bakery, metal-forming, woodworking, paper product or hoisting machines
  • Operating motor vehicles as drivers or delivery drivers, and serving as outside helpers
  • Operating circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears
  • Manufacturing brick and tile products
  • Working with electrical apparatus and wiring
  • Working in occupations involving toxic substances or corrosives, including pesticides or herbicides, unless proper field entry time allowances have been followed

There are additional restrictions for 14 and 15 year-olds including, but not limited to:

  • Operating or assisting to operate power-driven machinery, including all power mowers and cutters
  • Maintaining or repairing machinery or equipment
  • Working in freezers or meat coolers
  • Operating, setting up, adjusting, or cleaning power-driven meat or vegetable slicers, grinders, food choppers, and cutters, and bakery-type mixers
  • Manufacturing, mining, or processing occupations, including occupations requiring duties to be performed in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined or processed
  • Cooking (some exceptions apply) and baking
  • Working in occupations in Transportation, Warehousing and Storage, Communications, and Construction (except clerical), boiler or engine rooms
  • Loading and unloading trucks
  • Working in public messenger services
  • Spray-painting

Documentation Requirements

A business hiring a minor is also required to keep proof of age documentation (i.e., copy of driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.) which must be maintained throughout the duration of the minor’s employment.  Unless your company is exempt from the FLSA, which is extremely rare, the records must be kept until the minor turns 19.

Conclusion

Providing a work experience for minors entering the workforce is important.  But businesses must make sure they understand the rules pertaining to minors and are operating in compliance with these notice, scheduling and job duty restrictions. Failure to comply with the above restrictions could result in costly penalties. Florida Child Labor laws authorize fines up to $2,500 per offense. Not surprisingly, penalties under the FLSA are even harsher, with maximum fines up to $11,000 per minor/violation.  Florida law also carries potential criminal consequences, e.g., the risk of being found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor.