Who it affects?
At first glance, the obvious answer would be that child labor compliance has the most significant impact on the children which the legislation seeks to protect. However, the businesses that employ these minors also have an economic interest regarding compliance with these laws. When these laws are violated, it is not only the children that suffer, but also the employers. As public awareness of social issues increases, consumers have become less willing to endorse and give their business to a company that engages in questionable or immoral business practices. As a result, corporate responsibility has not only become a business norm, but also a valuable tool that can be used to increase a brand's public image and goodwill.
How Does Florida Regulate Child Labor?
Florida's child labor laws are put in place in order to promote the mental and physical health of minors, encourage the completion of high school, and to protect minors from explitation by their employers. Some of the ways that Florida accomplishes these goals is placing limitations on; the number of hours minors can work, how early or late they may be required to arrive/stay, the occupations in which work is permitted, and the amount of work that can be done on a school night. The limitations change depending on whether school is in session, whether the date is a holiday, and whether the minor could work despite the regulations under one of the recognized exemptions.
How Does This Affect Business?
Aside from fines that can be imposed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, child labor violations can do vast amounts of damage to a company's goodwill. A company's goodwill is the public's perception in the value of the business, not just as an economic enterprise but as a social player in the community. In essence, it is company's reputation. There may be instances where a company's violation is not so troubling, such as a one-time violation due to an innocent mistake. However, the laws that are in place tend to reflect the sentiments of our society, and the American people have time and time again given more protection to the children, the elderly, and the disabled. As a result, it is unlikely that even inadvertent mistakes will be overlooked or forgotten by the consumer base businesses seek to attract. Businesses who are at risk of falling into that category should look to improve their internal compliance measures and focus on the prevention of these violations.
What About The Children?
At the end of the day, it should not be forgotten that these laws exist to protect the children. Working long hours or without breaks can be very detrimental for a minor's health. The minors that are the subject of these laws are still in a development stage and being overworked can take a heavy toll on a child both physically and psychologically. Restrictions on the type of jobs minors may work are also meant to protect their safety by avoiding dangerous work that can place a child in physical harm. Corporate responsibility is about more than just making the best economic choice, it's also about doing the right thing.
How To Comply?
Florida's child labor laws are concise and straightforward. Businesses should simply review the law and make sure they are complying with these laws for the employees in the protected age groups. Even if a company has already violated these laws, it should be sure to implement internal compliance measures and publicly take a strong stance against future violations. For a quick reference, the following link is a chart prepared by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to help determine compliance. (http://www.hr.fsu.edu/pdf/publications/compliance/childlaborlaw.pdf)
By: Alejandro Felce, December 3rd, 2013.
Watch the related newscast with Alejandro's commentary from WKMG Local 6 News: