On January 1, 2017, Florida’s minimum wage will be going up five cents to $8.10 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees, which is in addition to tips, is also going up five cents to $5.08 per hour. The Florida Minimum Wage Act, which is the result of a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Florida Constitution, applies to those employees entitled to receive the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Florida’s minimum wage is recalculated annually on September 30th to adjust for inflation. The recalculation is based on the annual percentage change in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the South Region. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is responsible for calculating and posting the new minimum wage.
According to the Florida Supreme Court, only upward adjustments are permitted. Since becoming effective in 2005, Florida’s minimum wage has gone up almost every year.
Employers are required to pay the federal minimum hourly wage or their state’s minimum hourly wage, whichever is higher. Since Florida’s 2017 minimum hourly wage will be higher than the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25, Florida employees entitled to minimum wage cannot be paid less than $8.10 per hour.
Florida employers must prominently display a minimum wage poster in a conspicuous and accessible place wherever minimum wage employees are employed. This poster must notify employees of the minimum wage and of their rights and protections under Florida’s Minimum Wage Act.
Employers who violate Florida’s Minimum Wage Act can be sued by their employees. However, employees must first notify their employer, in writing, of their intent to sue. This notice must:
- Identify the minimum hourly wage to which the employee claims entitlement;
- Provide the actual or estimated work dates and hours for which payment is sought; and
- State the total amount of alleged unpaid wages.
After receiving such a notice, an employer has 15 calendar days to pay the total amount of unpaid wages or resolve the claim to the employee’s satisfaction. Otherwise, the employee will be allowed to file a lawsuit for unpaid minimum wages. The Florida Attorney General can also bring a civil action against employers. Each willful violation can result in a $1,000 fine.
Dealing with state and federal wage and hour laws can be hard. The new white collar overtime exemption regulations will only make things harder. To protect against employment practices liability claims, employers should implement a training program and explore their options for insuring against wage and hour claims.
Please contact us for more information about protecting your business from employment-related liabilities.
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