Florida Employment Law

Florida employment law is a broad area of law that focuses on the employer/employee relationship and involves thousands of federal and state statutes, including administrative regulations. The laws and regulations span a wide range of issues, from working conditions, employment terms, wages, hours, discrimination, dismissal, unions and collective bargaining. Therefore, if you are engaged in any type of business in the Sunshine State that requires you to hire workers, you need to become familiar with Florida employment law.

Minimum Wage Regulations

Florida’s state Constitution includes minimum wage laws for workers and tipped employees. The state Legislature has established a formula that fixes Florida’s minimum wage to consumer price index. Changes to the rate must be determined by Sept. 30 of each year and then take effect Jan. 1 of the following year.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Federal law stipulates that the applicable minimum wage is a state minimum wage if it is higher than the federal minimum wage. Florida’s current minimum wage rate is $8.10. Therefore, Florida workers must be paid at least $8.10 an hour.

Florida’s minimum wage for tipped employees is $5.08. State law mandates employers that choose to pay the workers the tipped minimum wage must ensure that the tipped worker is paid what amounts to the regular minimum wage when tips and the tipped minimum wage are combined. Therefore, there is an assumed “tip credit” of $3.02 an hour for tipped minimum wage employees that equals the regular minimum wage of $8.10 an hour. If an employee receiving the tipped minimum wage of $5.08 an hour does not receive at the mandated minimum of $8.10 an after tips are factored in, the employer is responsible for making up that difference.

Florida’s regulations allow workplaces to pool tips and gratuities, meaning employers have great discretion in establishing policies that require tipped workers share aggregated tips rather than collect them individually.

The Florida Constitution in Article X, Section. 24(c) defines the eligibility criteria, established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, in defining which workers legally qualify as tipped employees and which ones don’t.

Overtime Definitions and Regulations

Florida does not have state laws and rules regarding overtime definitions and regulations, opting instead to follow the minimum wage, overtime, and minimum age requirements for employees’ regulations set forth in The Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, there are two classifications of employees -- exempt and non-exempt – in regard to overtime regulations. Essentially, exempt employees, generally management, professional or “salaried,” are not eligible for overtime wages.

In 2016, federal regulations, which apply in Florida, were revised with some changes in overtime provisions to salaried workers. Those new provisions are explained in UpCounsel’s “ How to Prepare Your Business for the New Federal Overtime Law” guide.

Meals and Breaks

As with overtime regulations, Florida does not have its own set of regulations and rules laws requiring an employer provide a meal period or breaks to employees. Federal standards set forth in the FSLA apply.

Under FSLA guidelines, workplace supervisors must afford at least a 30-minute meal break to workers under 18-years-old who work four hours or more continuously. The FSLA does not require an employee 18-years-old or olderbe provided a meal period or breaks.

If an employer does opt to allow adult workers to take meal breaks or other reposes from labor, they do not need to pay the worker if the time period exceeds 30 minutes. Federal law does stipulate that if an employer chooses to provide breaks, lasting less than 20 minutes, they must be paid.

Vacation Leave

Florida has no state-specific laws defining employer obligations in workers with paid and unpaid vacation benefits.

Since vacations and other provisions for time off are components of benefit packages that employers offer prospective employees when recruiting in a competitive market for talent, they are included in employment contracts. Therefore, any denial of this benefit falls under the purview of the state’s contract laws.

Sick Leave

Florida does not have any state laws mandating that employers must provide workers with paid or unpaid sick leave. If an employer opts to offer sick leave benefits as part of an employment contract, then it must comply with the terms of that contract under state contract laws.

Although the state does not have sick leave laws, Florida employers are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which entitles eligible employees to job protection during up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period, for any of the following reasons:

  1. Birth and care of the employee’s child, or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  2. Care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
  3. Care of the employee’s own serious health condition.

Time Off for Holidays

There is no state mandate in Florida law that requires employers to provide workers with paid or unpaid days off on federal and religious holidays. There is no provision prohibiting private employers from requiring employees to work holidays.

In addition, state law does not mandate that private employers pay an employee premium pay, such time-and-half the regularly hourly wage, for working on holidays, unless that time is overtime.

Again, however, if an employer offers paid holidays and other holiday-related provisions, such as time-and-a-half salary, in an employment contract, it must do so or be in violation of state contract laws.

Jury Duty Protections and Provisions

Florida law prohibits an employer from discharging, penalizing, threatening, or subjecting him or her to any coercion because the worker has received or responded to a jury summons and will be empaneled.

On the other hand, state law does not mandate that the employer must pay an employee for time away from the workplace while serving on jury duty.

Voting Allowance

Florida state law does not require employers or supervisors give employees paid or unpaid time off during the workday to leave the workplace to vote.

Florida state law does, however, prohibit workplace supervisors and employers from terminating or threatening to fire any worker for not voting in an election or for voting for a specific candidate or in a certain way on a ballot measure.

These are not necessarily state labor law violations but third-degree felonies under federal and state civil rights laws.

Bereavement Provisions

There are no laws, regulations or rules in Florida statutes requiring employers to provide employees paid or unpaid time off to attend funerals or take bereavement leave following the death of a friend or family member.

If an employer offers bereavement provisions in an employment contract, however, it must comply with those benefits or be in violation of state contract laws.

Domestic Violence Provisions: Three Days Emergency Leave

Florida state law now requires workplaces with at least 50 employees provide employees up to three days off per year to deal with issues related to domestic violence in which they or members of their families are victims.

The three-day provision is an allowance that an employee or family member may need to take time off to seek medical care, relocate suddenly, or seek legal assistance.

Military leave

While the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)mandates regulations that protect reservists and other employees called to active military duty, Florida state law also requires employers allow workers to take leave if called to federal or state military service.

Both federal and Florida law mandate that employees must be reinstated to their positions when they return from service and may not be subjected to any form of discrimination because of their service.

Workers Compensation

Standards for workers’ compensation insurance vary greatly by state. Most states require that businesses with employees carry some type of workers’ compensation insurance, though there are frequently exceptions for sole proprietorships, business partners, and limited liability corporations. Most Florida employers are required by state law to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Florida state law stipulates that workers have the right to a safe workplace and that employers are obligated to provide safe, healthy working conditions and, depending on the industry and its standards, perform required safety training.

Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Laws

The provisions outlined under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964prohibits employers from making job decisions based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), or national origin, or on age (if the applicant or worker is at least 40 years old), disability, or genetic information. These provisions apply to employers with 15 or more workers.

Florida employers must comply with these laws.

Florida Employment Law

This is only a brief outline of the Florida employment law, which is a broad area of law that focuses on the employer/employee relationship and involves thousands of federal and state statutes, including administrative regulations. A few areas to think about are: working conditions, employment terms, wages, hours, discrimination, dismissal, unions and collective bargaining.

In Florida, as well as in other states, the state’s employment law actually begins before you even hire an employee. As an employer, you will want to start by obtaining workers’ compensation insurance and setting up an employer payroll tax account with the state.

Additionally, in most cases, an interview process will need to be put in place with some sort of legal background check that has correct consent procedures. The next step is to have an accurate process for on-boarding new employees. Whether this is with immigration law, tax issues or simply a pay-roll system a process is needed for whenever you bring on a new employee.

Contractual work will play a huge role in this process as you will need to keep paperwork on every employee who signs onto the company, including paystubs and wage notice. Providing benefits that comply with state and federal law, having a safe workplace and not and creating a system for enough paid time off are a few more of the issues employment law deals with.

To ensure you are following all the required procedures, ensure your employee policies and practices have been reviewed by attorneys who specialize in these type of laws -- employment attorneys. Upcounsel.com provides a comprehensive directory of attorneys who are practitioners in distinct fields of business law, including such specialties as small business law in specific states and in putting together an employee handbook that covers all the bases.

The directory features profiles on individual attorneys that outline his or her experience, education backgrounds as well as a general outline of fees. UpCounsel has verified that any attorney listed on its site has been endorsed their state Bar associations with a “Good Standing” rating. In fact, if you are an entrepreneur or starting your own business for the first time, UpCounsel offers a roster of Florida Startup Attorneys & Lawyers.

If you have questions about Florida employment law, you can post them on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.