The Florida House votes to repeal the stricter immigration employment statute one year after it was passed

The Florida House of Representatives recently voted to modify child labor laws, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work longer and later hours. This legislative move comes precisely a year after the state enacted stricter laws making it more difficult for employers to hire immigrants illegally present in the country. The bill, championed by Republican Rep.

Linda Chaney, aims to ease restrictions that currently limit the working hours of teenagers to no more than eight hours on days preceding school and no more than 30 hours a week during the school session. The House passed this bill with an 80-35 vote.

Proponents of the bill argue that it empowers teenagers and their parents to make informed decisions regarding time management and work opportunities, especially in the context of the current labor shortage.

They contend that this legislative change will assist in career development and financial independence among youth. Rep. Chaney highlighted the eagerness of teenagers to enter the workforce, noting the high volume of searches related to teen employment, and presented the bill as a means to remove governmental barriers to their employment choices.

However, the bill has faced criticism from those who believe it could lead to the exploitation of young workers and negatively impact their academic commitments. Democrats, in particular, have expressed concerns that the adjustments might have been motivated by the labor shortages resulting from the state’s immigration policies.

Rep. Anna Eskamani criticized the bill for potentially saturating the job market with cheap labor, which could undermine wage standards for all workers. She advocated instead for increasing wages for adults in less desirable jobs as a solution to labor shortages.

The Senate is considering a similar bill, though with less extensive modifications than the House version. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Republican, voiced apprehensions about the potential for excessive work hours to compromise young people’s sleep and education, emphasizing the importance of balancing work opportunities with educational priorities.

This legislative development reflects a broader debate on balancing labor force participation with educational attainment and child welfare. As the bill progresses, it remains to be seen how these changes will affect Florida’s youth and broader labor market​