Florida State Senate Bill 460, introduced Nov. 14 in the Florida legislature by Republican State Sen. Corey Simon, would provide exemptions allowing minors as young as 16 to work on roofing jobs and revise requirements to expand career fairs, according to Construction Dive.
The bill would allow minors with OSHA 10 certifications to perform commercial and residential roofing work provided they are supervised by a worker who is 21 or older with two years of experience and an OSHA 10 certification.
The bill also would require annual career fairs at high schools to provide students in 11th and 12th grade with an opportunity to meet with employers from industries such as construction, agriculture and nursing to learn about career and technical education.
Critics of the bill say it is a temporary fix to keep job sites staffed; undocumented workers reportedly have left job sites to work elsewhere since Florida began using the E-Verify System.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, workers under 16 years old only can perform office or sales work in the construction industry. Workers who are 16 and 17 can work on construction job sites, but federal law prohibits them from doing tasks considered too hazardous, such as roofing.
Another bill in the Florida House of Representatives could remove some restrictions regarding the hours minors can work, allowing them to work at later times of day. Both bills have been sent to committees for review before any vote from the state legislature.
Trace Zarr, director of government relations for the Alabama Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America—which represents northwest Florida contractors—emphasized that solutions to address the ongoing labor crisis must also provide rigorous training to ensure the safety of all workers.