Although there are some exceptions, almost everywhere across the United States, young people can begin working at age 14, according to federal child labor laws. However, child labor laws in each state may also indicate the minimum age to work and which permits they need to do so. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the more restrictive law will apply.
Working Guidelines for Teens in the Sunshine State
In Florida, teens do not need a child employment certificate to work, but they do need to show proof of age. There, 14- and 15-year-olds can work up to 15 hours per week, but not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. and not more than three hours on school days when a school day follows.
On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays or non-school days, these teens may work up to eight hours. On non-school days when a school day doesn't follow, they can work up until 9 p.m. When school isn't in session, 14- and 15-year-olds in Florida can work eight hours per day and up to 40 hours per week. During these breaks in the school year, they cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Florida teens who are 16 and 17 years old may work up to 30 hours per week, but not before 6:30 a.m. and not after 11 p.m. and for no more than 8 hours when a school day follows. When a school day doesn't follow, these teens do not have a restriction on how many hours they can work in one day.
When school is not in session, 16 and 17-year-olds in Florida have no limitations on the hours they work. Teens in both age brackets may not work more than six consecutive days per week. Juvenile workers must receive a 30-minute break after working for four consecutive hours.
Prohibited Occupations and Situations for Minor Workers
Like most states, Florida has regulations that largely prohibit minor workers from performing dangerous jobs. For example, youth in the 14- to 15-year-old age bracket may not work in jobs that require them to operate power-driven machinery or motor vehicles. They may also not work in construction unless it's in a clerical capacity.
Meanwhile, youth in the 16- to 17-year-old age bracket cannot perform dangerous tasks on the job such as logging, firefighting, or wrecking or demolition. They're also not allowed to work near hazardous substances such as pesticides or radioactive substances. They can't work with electrical apparatuses or wiring either. Here is the list of prohibited jobs and situations from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Prohibited Occupations for Workers Age 14 and 15
- Operating power-driven machinery other than office machines, including all power mowers and cutters.
- Maintaining or repairing machines, equipment, and/or an establishment.
- Loading and unloading trucks.
- Conducting door-to-door sales of products (some exceptions apply).
- Working in construction.
- Cooking using electric or gas grills that involve cooking over an open flame; cooking using deep fat fryers that are not equipped with devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets into the grease; cleaning surfaces and equipment that is not power-driven, including the filtering and dispensing of oil or grease when the temperature of the surfaces, equipment, oil, and grease exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and all baking.
- Work involving ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes.
Prohibited Occupations for All Minors
- Operating motor vehicles on public highways.
- Working with electrical apparatus or wiring.
- Operating circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears.
- Operating certain power-driven bakery machines, metal forming and punching machines, and hoisting apparatus.
- Working in demolition, wrecking, or excavation.
- Working on roofs, scaffolding, or ladders above six feet.
- Operating power-driven meat processing equipment, including meat-slicing machines, grinders, and choppers.
- Working in mining operations.
- Working in logging or sawmilling operations.
- Working in or around toxic substances or corrosives, including pesticides or herbicides.
- Operating or assisting in operating tractors over 20 PTO horsepower, forklifts, earthmoving equipment, and any harvesting, planting, or plowing machinery, or any moving machinery.
The Bottom Line
Before saying "yes" to a job opportunity, it's important for teens to check the law to make sure that they are legally allowed to work the number of hours their employer requires. For more information about working as a minor in Florida, visit the state labor website.