Florida Labor Laws sum up a wide array of laws including Florida federal laws and statutes like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The laws set minimum wages and hourly wage protections as well as protect employees against harassment in their places of work.
Florida Minimum Wage
All employees in this state according to Florida labor laws have the right to obtain a minimum wage at the highest level set by the federal, state, or local laws depending on the firm they are contracted with. Beginning Jan 1st, 2014 all employers across the country are required to pay $7.25 per hour as the minimum wage. However, employees in Florida are required to pay a higher minimum wage to their employees; $8.46 per hour.
While most employees are paid well above the minimum wage, the FLSA is often violated when the firm does not pay for all the hours worked and the rate falls below the minimum wage. There are two common instances in this scenario:
Overtime: Employees that are often required to complete a project beyond agreed timelines
There are no Florida laws regarding overtime. However, federal laws regarding overtime do apply in Florida. Under the laws, employees that work overtime have the right to obtain a pay “time and a half” of his usual hourly pay. Salaried managers are the most common example of exempt employees who enjoy the overtime laws.
Employers often infringe the overtime laws. However, employers are advised to seek the counsel of an employment lawyer and offer their employees the overtime pay that is due. If the employer fails to observe the set federal laws on overtime pay even after the counsel of their attorney, then the workers will.
Employees that work through breaks but do not get compensated for the extra time worked
Under Florida labor laws, an employer has to offer a 30 minutes unpaid meal to all his employees below the age of 18 years. No such rules apply for employees aged 18 and older. There are neither federal nor Florida laws that require employers to offer unpaid meals to people aged 18 and over. It is, however, customary for most Florida employers to offer their employees at least 30 minutes breaks between every 3-4 hours of work.
So long as there are no restrictions on the activities that employees can engage in during this time, these breaks do not need to be paid breaks under Florida labor laws. There is no federal law regarding meal breaks since they are not viewed as working hours.Employers are also required to offer short breaks, typically shorter than 20 minutes, to allow their employees to get a snack or a quick meal.
Labor Laws for Salaried Employees in Florida
While hourly employees get paid by the amount of hours they spend working, employees get an agreed weekly, bi-weekly or monthly wage. The FLSA provides rules on how the salaried employees should be paid including for overtime.
The employer is required to pay the agreed amount of wage at the agreed intervals. The wage can make up part of the employees’ pay or it can be the full payment. The pay period salary is often determined by dividing the employee’s annual pay by the number of annual periods weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
Criteria for Exempt Workers
According to the FLSA, exempt workers are those excluded from any overtime pay while nonexempt workers may accept minimum wages as well as overtime payments. Most of the nonexempt workers include hourly employees while the salaried employees are exempt. The employer is prohibited from labeling employees as exempt at will or to avoid paying overtime. To meet the criteria for exempt status, the employee must have met the FLSA’s job and wage-related requirements. They can then access payment on salary basis in which case, they qualify for overtime pay if worked.
For doctors, school teachers, and other careers, the employees can be exempt while still receiving an hourly pay. You can always consult your employer or state laws to get clarification on exempt employees.
Working Hours and Pay Requirements for Salaried Employees
According to the FLSA, salaried employees should receive full payment irrespective of the hours and days he works. However, if a salaried employee fails to turn up for work for the whole week, the employer is not required to pay anything for that week. The employer is prohibited from reducing the employee’s pay if work is reduced or unavailable as long as the employee is ready to work. The employer is also not allowed to reduce pay for half-day absences. That means if an employer takes a half-day off, they still get the full pay for the day.
The employer is, however, allowed to make permissible deductions to the pay in instances such as unpaid disciplinary suspensions, overuse of benefit days, and personal leaves. If an employee becomes a common feature in permissible deductions, they can lose their exempt status.
Florida Labor Laws for Hourly Employees
There are no labor laws regarding hourly wages in Florida, but there are federal provisions in the FLSA for hourly workers that guarantee their protection and a minimum wage including overtime hours.
Independent contractors are not included in the provisions for hour protections and a minimum wage provided by the law. The classification of workers in exempt and non-exempt allows the employer to pay and provide essential services to the employees as per the law. Exempt employees are usually executives, professionals, administrators, and computer employees.
Florida labor laws provide a minimum wage of $8.46 per hour which is $1.21 more than the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage in Florida is subject to change annually per state law.
Disputes regarding wages and hours are the most common in employment law and Florida Child labor laws. It is in your best interests as an employee to get legal help if you have enough reason to believe that your employer has been denying you meal breaks, or any other employment concern. Hiring an experienced Florida employment attorney could iron out things for you and give you peace of mind.
Lunch Break Labor Laws in Florida
There are no Florida or federal labor laws that require employers to provide all their employees with the time off for lunch or short breaks during work day. However, it shouldn’t surprise you if you get meals and rest breaks from a Florida employer. Employees must be compensated for shorter breaks allowed during work days since they are not required to take these breaks in the first place.
While workers receive more protection in some states with a number of them requiring employers to provide employees with meal and rest breaks, Florida doesn’t. Therefore, employers in Florida are not required to provide their employees with either rest breaks or meal breaks. However, recognizing that employees need to be comfortable and replenished to be productive at the workplace, most employers allow the breaks as a policy or custom.
Florida Child Labor Laws
Florida prohibits the employment of any persons below the age of 16. There are clear provisions in Florida child labor laws on the employment of 16 and 17-year-olds. These include how many hours a 16 and 17 year old should work in a week, the times they can work in a day, and the type of occupation they can perform in a firm.
Hours of work
16 and 17 year olds may not begin work before 6:30 am or go on with work past 11:00 pm. They should also not work more than 8 hours in a day when they are scheduled to attend school the next day. 16 and 17 year olds may not work for more than 30 hours in a week when schools are in session. Only those enrolled in career education programs may get employed during school hours.
The time restrictions on youth labor don’t apply to minors who:
- Are 16 or 17 years of age but have graduated from high school or has a high school equivalency diploma.
- Have received valid certifications of absolution from their designee or the school superintendent pursuant to Florida Statute 1003.21
- Are enrolled in an education institution and qualify on family emergency, economic necessity or any other valid hardship basis. Such a determination could be made by the youth’s designee or the school’s superintendent and the minor and the employer could then be issued with a waiver of hours.
- Work for their parents or guardians,
- Work as domestic service in private homes, or
- Work as a page for the Florida Legislature
Prohibited occupations for minors
Florida laws prohibit minors aged 16 and 17 years, with exemption of those working in the entertainment industry, from accepting employments in the occupations listed below;
- In manufacturing or storage plants that present a clear danger of losing a limb or life, including explosive manufacture, storage, or articles with explosive content.
- Driver or helper for a motor-vehicle
- Occupations which pose a risk of exposure to radioactive material or ionizing radiations
- In firms dealing with corrosives or toxic substances such as herbicides, or pesticides, unless the required rules of field entry are properly followed
- Any mining occupations
- Firms dealing with the manufacture of bricks, tiles or any similar products
- Any operations involving wrecking, or demolition
- Operation of sawmills, lath mills, cooperage stock mill or shingle mill
- Any roofing operations
- Transporting, modifying, dispensing, or altering cylinders, tanks, or any other equipment that is used as storage for any compound gas, including air compressed at a pressure of more than 40 pounds per square inch. Minors are, however, allowed to fill bicycle or car tires if provided with the proper training and the cylinder is properly fixed and secure.
- Any occupations involving operation of band saws, circular saws, and guillotine shears
Common Labor Law Violations
As discussed above, there are different labor laws in Florida that protect employees and employers’ rights in proper payment of wages and other working conditions. However, violations of the FLSA are not uncommon in the state. Despite employees’ hard work, some of them are the victims of unfair loss of their hard-earned money. Violation of labor loss is especially common in smaller businesses, and in most cases, the employers are not aware of the violations. However, whether intentional or not, the affected employees should recover all the rightful pay they had lost. Here are some of the most common labor law violations in Florida:
Failure to Pay Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Florida currently stands at $8.46. Every employee in the state should receive at least this amount for every hour spent at work. While the requirement may seem relatively straightforward, employers have often failed to fulfill the minimum wage to their workers including “off the clock” hours. Most of these cases are as a result of the employers’ failure to account for hours worked.
Failure to Pay Overtime Wages
Any work time exceeding 40 hours a week must be compensated at one and a half times the employee’s hourly rate. However, most employees do not enjoy their right to receive the proper overtime payments. That is mostly as a result of lack of clarity on the employer’s part on which workers are exempt from overtime laws and those who are not.
Upon hiring, the individual must be classified as either an employee or an independent contractor. The distinction is necessary since employees are protected under the FLSA laws while independent contractors are not. Moreover, employees are entitled to a horde of additional benefits that independent contractors do not enjoy such as unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. In the unfortunate instance that an individual is misclassified, they are bound to lose significant benefits that they should be entitle to.
Illegal Pay Deductions
Most employers believe that they can deduct from employees’ paychecks to make up for various costs in work supplies or employee uniforms. However, these deductions often result in failure of paychecks meeting the required minimum wage. There are available procedures for reclamation of costs from employees whenever necessary.
Some employers may even intentionally deduct payments that employees do not know of or do not easily notice in an attempt to illegally make some money while breaching the FLSA wage requirements.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Based on the severity and nature of the alleged violation, labor law cases tend to differ significantly. It is, therefore, essential that you give your case to professional and experienced hands if you believe your employer has violated any of your wage rights, or any other working conditions. While some cases might be a simple misunderstanding, you could be a victim of long-term extortion without your knowledge.
If you have any suspicions that you are being unfairly treated at your work station it is advisable to get the services of a skilled Florida labor law attorney and get your situation solved as soon as possible.