(Updated July 2023)
Florida labor laws exist to ensure that employees get paid what they are legally owed and protect employees from illegal actions such as harassment. They are far-reaching and include state statutes and federal statutes such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we are dedicated to fighting for employee rights and providing workers across the state with the information they need regarding Florida labor laws.
Florida Employment and Labor Laws
From minimum wage to overtime, there are strict guidelines that employers must follow when they are paying their employees. However, it is not uncommon for employers across the state to not obey these laws. Violations can sometimes be due to ignorance of the law, but employers often decide not to follow them to decrease their costs of doing business.
If companies violate these laws, their workers have a right to obtain legal counsel to hold them accountable.
Minimum Wage Laws
Minimum wage laws set the standard base pay for employees across industries. Federal minimum wage laws bind employers, but if a state, such as Florida, has passed legislation higher than the federal rate, employees have the legal right to that higher rate.
When Florida voters approved state measures for an incremental increase in the state’s minimum wage in November 2020, it was a win for employee rights. The state’s minimum wage is now up to $11.00/hour, and the minimum wage for tipped employees is $7.98/hour (until September 29, 2023). Employers must pay that wage to all those who qualify.
Under the FLSA and Florida labor laws, salaried employees get paid a certain amount in agreed-upon intervals such as bi-weekly or monthly. The full amount should be paid regardless of the hours worked each week.
There are some caveats to full payment under the FLSA, including if the employee does not work a whole week, overuse of benefit days, personal leave, and disciplinary suspensions.
Even though the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, hourly workers have a right to the Florida rate of $11.00/hour as long as they are eligible. Most employees are subject to the individual coverage provision of the state law and FLSA.
If you are a full-time student at a Florida high school or a college student working part-time, Florida labor laws allow employers to pay 85% of the minimum wage or $9.35/hour in certain industries. The minimum wage in Florida would apply to other part-timers.
The FLSA is the federal law that protects workers in the state regarding overtime. There are no rules in Florida labor laws that address this part of employee rights, including salaried, hourly, and part-time workers.
Certain workers are considered exempt under the FLSA, including many salaried workers, such as those in management positions (executives, administrators, other professionals, and computer science employees). If you are salaried and not in one of these positions, you may be considered non-exempt and eligible for overtime.
Hourly workers have the right to get the time and a half pay for each hour worked over 40 hours in a workweek. For example, if your wages are $11.00/hour and you work 50 hours in a particular workweek, you should receive $11.00 x 1.5 = $16.50/hour for those extra 10 hours.
It is not common for part-time employees to receive enough hours to be eligible for overtime pay. If it does occur, your employer is legally bound to pay you time and a half for any hours worked over 40 in a particular week under the FLSA.
Under Florida labor laws, there is no requirement for companies to pay severance for workers laid off due to no fault of their own. However, many companies do, such as when there are plant closings or large-scale reductions in the workforce across a national company with multiple locations.
Severance pay for salaried workers typically depends on the time the employee was with the company before the layoff. There is not a definitive standard for severance pay, but common payouts include:
- Less than 1 year = between 2 to 4 weeks of pay
- Less than 2 years = between 3 to 8 weeks of pay
- Less than 3 years = between 4 to 12 weeks of pay, etc.
The longer you are with the company, the more you receive.
Similar to salaried workers, full-time hourly workers may get severance, and it is also typically tied to how long you have been with the company. Severance can be paid out in a lump sum, over time, or other methods.
Typically, part-time employees have not worked enough hours to receive severance, though some companies may decide to include them.
Paid Sick Leave and FMLA
Many private-sector employers will offer paid sick leave as an employee benefit but are not required to do so. Public sector employees, as a general rule, receive paid sick leave. Most employers are required to follow the rules of the FMLA (50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and government institutions).
Salaried workers receive a set wage, which typically includes paid sick leave—those who work for a salary usually qualify for FMLA benefits.
Many hourly workers earn a certain amount of paid sick leave per year and may utilize that time to offset the missed wages in conjunction with leave from work under the FMLA (which is unpaid).
Part-time workers accrue less paid time off than full-time workers if the employer even offers it at all. The federal laws under the FMLA still apply, but there is a standard number of hours worked to qualify. (1,250 hours in the previous 12 months).
Many private-sector employers offer paid vacation as an employee benefit, but it’s not a requirement. Public sector employees usually receive paid vacation time. The employer sets the rules 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.
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 disappear1.
Salaried workers receive a set wage, and it typically includes paid vacation time. The exact details of paid vacation time can vary significantly based on the employer and the specific agreement with the employee.
Hourly workers may also earn paid vacation time, depending on their employer’s policies. The amount of vacation time an hourly worker can earn might be based on the number of hours worked over a certain period.
Part-time workers might accrue less paid vacation time than full-time workers, if the employer even offers it at all. The specifics will depend on the employer’s policies and the agreement with the employee. It’s important for part-time workers to understand their rights and to review their employer’s policies on paid vacation time.
In the state of Florida, there is no legal requirement for employers to compensate employees for maternity or paternity leave. This is an important aspect for new parents to understand when planning for the arrival of a child.
Salaried employees, who are typically full-time, may have provisions for maternity or paternity leave in their employment agreement or company policies. However, unless specifically stated, this leave is generally unpaid. Public sector employees in Florida are legally entitled to a maximum of six weeks’ leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.
Hourly employees, similar to their salaried counterparts, are not guaranteed paid maternity or paternity leave. The provision of such leave is at the discretion of the employer and may be specified in the employee’s contract or the company’s policies.
Part-time workers often face more variability in maternity/paternity leave provisions. While they may be granted leave, it is typically unpaid and may be shorter in duration compared to that of full-time employees.
It’s crucial to know that both private and public sector employees can take advantage of the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parent duties, but it applies only if the company has more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Domestic Violence Leave
In Florida, provisions exist for employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence. These regulations, outlined in Florida Statutes Title XLIII, Domestic Relations § 741.313, are designed to provide employees with the time necessary to address the personal and legal implications of these situations.
For salaried employees in businesses with more than 50 employees, the law allows for up to three unpaid workdays off in such situations. To qualify, the employee must have been working there for at least three months. During this time, the employee can undertake essential actions such as seeking an injunction against the abuser, obtaining medical care or counseling, securing the home, or seeking legal help.
Hourly employees are granted the same provisions as their salaried counterparts. They, too, can take up to three days of unpaid leave to address situations of domestic or sexual violence, provided they work in a business with more than 50 employees and have been employed there for a minimum of three months.
Part-time employees, provided they meet the same requirements of employer size and employment duration, are also entitled to the same three-day unpaid leave in instances of domestic or sexual violence.
Common Florida Labor Law Violations
Here are three common Florida labor law violations:
- Employees are required to work through breaks but are not compensated for the extra time they have worked.
- Employees are instructed to work on a particular job or project that extends their work hours into overtime, making their pay below the minimum wage after not getting compensated for that extra time worked.
- Employers do not follow FMLA guidelines and/or retaliate against the employee for legally taking time off under the act.
When to Contact a Florida Employment and Labor Law Attorney
If your employer has not paid you at least Florida minimum wage and earned overtime or conducted other potential Florida labor law violations, contact a Florida Employment and Labor Law Attorney to discuss your best legal options.
Employee rights should be honored, and you deserve fair pay.
Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
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.