Please note this blog post is written for employers, although we understand it may be of interest to employees as well. At this time, our firm only represents business owners and employers. If you need assistance with a legal matter as an employee, please consult a firm that represents employees.
Florida wage and hour law refers to standards and requirements that employers must adhere to when it comes to minimum wage, overtime, and other issues related to how employees are compensated.
It is important to understand Florida’s wage and hour laws to provide the best situation for your employees and remain compliant as an employer.
“It is critical for employers to implement payroll policies and procedures that are compliant with federal and state wage and hour laws.”Business Attorney, Kristi Benson
How Are Florida Wage and Hour Laws Regulated?
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida State Law provide protections for workers and guidelines for employers. The governing body depends on the law. There are three types of employees in Florida:
- Exempt employees,
- Non-exempt employees, and
- Independent contractors.
Classifications determine what kind of wage protection an employee is entitled to. Independent contractors are not considered “employees,” and therefore, they do not receive wage protections such as overtime, unless otherwise agreed in their contract with the employer. Exempt and non-exempt employees are classified by their jobs.
Generally, those who earn an hourly wage are non-exempt employees in Florida. Additionally, those who earn under $23,660 annually or $455 weekly are non-exempt. Jobs that may fall under this classification include:
- Inside sales workers:
- Non-management employees;
- “Blue-collar” workers;
- Vocational workers; and
- Emergency personnel such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders.
All non-exempt employees are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.
Florida Overtime Laws
Florida does not have its own overtime laws.
However, employers must comply with federal overtime laws found in the FLSA. Overtime is available to non-exempt employees anytime the employee works more than 40 hours in one workweek.
Overtime rate of pay is equal to or greater than one and one-half (time and a half) the employee’s regular pay rate
Minimum Wage Laws
Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.65 per hour. Starting in September 2021, the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour. After this initial increase, the yearly increase will be one dollar a year through 2026.
As an employer, you cannot pay employees less than minimum wage except in certain circumstances where part of an employee’s income is based on tips.
When this is the case, the minimum wage requirement is $5.54 per hour and the employee must earn at least $3.02 an hour in tips.
Prevailing wage refers to the rate of pay that must be offered by contractors and vendors to their employees when conducting business with a government agency.
Florida does not have a state law that governs these types of contracts. This is rarely an issue in states like Florida where the state minimum wage is higher than the national minimum wage, though the prevailing wage is not always the same as the minimum wage.
Meals and Breaks
According to the Department of Labor, federal law does not require breaks, but the FLSA asserts that if breaks are less than 20 minutes long, they are considered part of the workday. Meal breaks of 30 minutes or more can be unpaid.
Some states have detailed rules regarding employee breaks and compensation, including how often breaks are required per hours worked. Some industries, such as transportation, require breaks on a certain schedule for safety reasons.
Paid Vacation Time
Employers do not have to provide the benefit of vacation time to employees. Vacation time is a “perk,” not a requirement. Many private-sector employers offer paid vacation time for full-time employees. Vacation pay incentivizes employees to stay with the business and boosts morale.
Stipulations for vacation pay, such as how long you have to work for the company before receiving vacation pay, the number of days an employee can take, and how to submit a request for vacation should be understood by both the employer and employee.
Employers do have the legal right to enforce a “use it or lose it” policy so that an employee cannot accrue an excess amount of vacation time. This type of policy mandates that the employee use the days by a certain date or they disappear.
Much like paid vacation time, sick leave is an optional perk provided by an employer. It is often in the employer’s best interest to have some sort of sick leave option for full-time employees to avoid the pressure of trying to work through an illness or having employees infect other staff members when contagious.
That being said, if you are an employer who does not offer sick leave, you are still compliant with state and federal labor laws. But keep in mind that in some circumstances, an employee is federally entitled to take leave without pay to deal with a personal or family illness.
Florida Holiday Pay
Private-sector employers are not required to grant any holidays off with or without pay. The State of Florida officially recognizes 19 holidays, many of which are days off for those working in the public sector. Some of these holidays include:
- New Year’s Day,
- Martin Luther King Day,
- Presidents’ Day,
- Pascua Florida Day,
- Independence Day,
- Labor Day,
- Columbus Day,
- Veteran’s Day.
- Thanksgiving Day, and
- Christmas Day,
If you are a private-sector employer, you may not even notice that Columbus Day has come and gone, but Thanksgiving is probably more meaningful for your employees. You do not have to offer any holiday pay for these holidays, but keep staff morale in mind when making decisions about holidays.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
Employers are not required to compensate employees for maternity or paternity leave. New parents who are Florida public sector employees are legally entitled to a maximum of six weeks’ leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.
This also extends to caring for a spouse with disabilities leading up to and following childbirth. This time is unpaid unless otherwise stated in an employment agreement or employee policies.
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act allows both private or public sector employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parent duties. This is only available to your employees if your company has more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Nursing Mother Breaks
This one ties in with parental leave but refers to being at work and needing to take breaks to express milk. These breaks are not mandatory under Florida law.
For businesses with over 50 employees, the federal FLSA requires employers to provide non-exempt employees who are nursing mothers the ability to take nursing breaks for up to a year.
In some situations, the employer must provide a private space other than a bathroom. This does not apply to companies with under 50 employees as it may impose an undue hardship.
Domestic Violence Leave
You may not have heard of this one, but it is a real thing. According to Florida Statutes Title XLIII. Domestic Relations § 741.313 an employee can request and take up to three unpaid workdays off if the employee or a household member is the victim of domestic violence or sexual violence.
The statute applies if the business has more than 50 employees and the employee has been working there for at least three months. The employee must use this time to seek an injunction against the abuser, obtain medical care or counseling, pursue victim service assistance, secure the home, or seek legal help.
Florida does not require employers to provide time off to vote, but many do. Some choose to restrict the amount of time an employee can be away from work for this activity.
Virtually no one gets excited about jury duty—not employers and not employees. But it is a valid reason for having to miss work. Florida wage and hour laws require that employees be allowed to perform this civic duty. As an employer, you cannot fire or threaten to fire someone for having to perform jury duty.
Understanding Florida Wage and Hours Laws
There is a lot to take into consideration when determining whether you are compliant with the wages and other employee considerations that you provide.
The requirements are different for private and public sector employers, and it is important to know what you are responsible for to avoid unnecessary payouts or disputes with current and former employees.
BrewerLong business law attorneys work specifically with employers to provide assistance and guidance for all types of human resource and labor law compliance, including Florida wage and hour laws.
Having an experienced advocate to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer can be invaluable when you are facing a business dispute. Schedule a consultation, and let’s work together to keep your business moving forward.
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