It’s not always easy to know if you’re being paid in compliance with state and federal laws. Some employers intentionally try to confuse or even intimidate their workers into accepting a lower pay rate than the law allows.
The best way to prevent that from happening is to know your rights under the law. We’ve compiled some frequently asked questions about Florida wage payment law to help you get started. If you’re worried that your employer may be taking advantage of you, contact a reputable employment law attorney to discuss your options.
What’s the minimum wage in Florida?
The minimum wage is one of those rare cases in which Florida employment law is actually more strict than federal law. As of this writing, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, while the Florida minimum is $7.79.
It’s important to note that employers don’t have the option of choosing which minimum they’d rather pay. Federal law says that when a state’s minimum wage differs from the federal minimum, employers must pay the higher wage rate.
The minimum wage doesn’t apply to salaried workers, farmworkers or to certain other types of employees. This DOL resource explains more on the topic.
What are the minimum wage rules for employees who earn tips?
Minimum wage laws do apply to tipped workers, like servers in restaurants and bars, but they work a bit differently.
Tipped employees are still entitled to earn the prevailing minimum wage – local, state or federal, whichever is highest – when tips and hourly wages are combined. Here in Florida, their earned hourly wage before tips cannot be lower than $4.77. However, if that combination of tips and hourly wages do not add up to an average hourly wage rate of $7.79, the employer is obligated to make up the difference.
When is my employer obligated to pay overtime?
Under Florida law, there is no such obligation. State law doesn’t recognize a worker’s right to overtime pay. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act does have something to say on the subject. The FLSA requires non-exempt employees to be paid 1.5 times their usual hourly rate for any hours over 40 worked in a single week. So if you are paid at rate of $10 per hour and you are required to work 44 hours one week, you will earn $15 per hour for hours 41 through 44. You will be paid your regular hourly rate for the first 40 hours you worked that week.
That phrase “non-exempt” isn’t very clear on its own, so here is an explanation of what that means. The U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t apply overtime laws equally to all workers. Some workers – like farmworkers, or executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees who are on salary – don’t get overtime at all, while others may or may not, depending on the specific circumstances of their employment.
The upshot of all that is that most salaried employees are not eligible for overtime. For more information on exemptions under federal law, just click this link.
Do I have a legal right to breaks?
Neither state nor federal law requires your employer to provide lunch or rest breaks. However, you are entitled to be paid for a break if you are expected to do any work during your break time. If your employer provides short breaks (generally understood to mean between 5 to 20 minutes) throughout the day, you can expect to be paid for those as well.
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Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.