Florida Labor Laws: A Complete Guide to Wages, Breaks, Overtime, and More (2024)

In this article, we’ll dive deep into Florida’s labor laws, with details on all the important aspects of the state’s regulations on your employees.
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We’re here with a series that takes a hard look at labor laws across all 50 states, each tailored specifically to help you navigate these crucial regulations on a per-state basis.

In this installment, we’re focusing on the beautiful Sunshine State of Florida—known for its abundance of sandy beaches, vibrant modern cities, and booming construction projects. Florida’s labor market is as diverse as its populations and various landscapes. 

But with diversity comes complexity, particularly regarding understanding and adhering to state labor laws.

Whether you’re a seasoned business veteran or a new employer, we’ve got you covered, and this guide is crafted to ensure you’re not just meeting basic legal standards but truly excelling in creating a fair, safe, and productive workplace for your employees.

Meals and Breaks in Florida

In construction, where days can be long and tasks can be demanding, understanding the rules around meal and break times in Florida is crucial for maintaining a healthy and compliant workplace.

Meals and Other Florida Labor Law Breaks

Specific Rules

Meal Breaks

Florida has no requirement for any employer to provide a paid meal period or rest break to any employees over 18.

Breaks for Minors

Under Florida law, minors under 18 must have one uninterrupted 30-minute break every four hours.

Lactation Breaks

There are no state-specific laws concerning lactation breaks. However, under the PUMP Act, employees who are breastfeeding are entitled to reasonable break time and a private space to pump for one year.

Leave and Paid Time Off (PTO) in Florida

Since the state doesn’t have any leave or PTO laws, family and medical leave are primarily governed by federal laws, particularly the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA. This law applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, and eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, with job protection built-in.

Florida doesn’t have a statewide requirement for employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave. However, some municipalities in Florida may have their own regulations regarding sick leave, so it’s important to stay informed about the rules that apply in your area.

Like sick leave, no state law in Florida requires employers to offer paid or unpaid vacation benefits. Furthermore, PTO policies, which typically combine vacation and sick leave into a single bank of days, are at the employer’s discretion in Florida.

Overtime Regulations in Florida

There are no specific state overtime laws in Florida, meaning the state follows the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, concerning overtime pay. In general, overtime pay is one and a half times an employee’s regular pay rate, and overtime is typically due when an employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Please note that not every employee is eligible for overtime pay.

According to FLSA guidelines, certain types of employees are exempt, mainly based on their job duties and salary levels, which include professionals, administrators, executives, and some sales employees. It’s important to correctly classify employees to avoid legal issues related to wage and hour laws.

To calculate Florida labor laws overtime pay, determine the regular pay rate, then determine the number of hours worked over the standard 40 in a workweek.

Multiply the overtime hours by 1.5 times the regular pay rate to determine the overtime wages. In Florida, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular payday for the pay period in which the overtime was worked, since delaying this payment can lead to violations under the FLSA.

Wages and Benefits in Florida

Minimum Wage Laws in Florida

Florida’s approach to minimum wage is straightforward, with a few key twists:

Wage Type in FL

FL Minimum Wage

$12.00 /hr.

FL Tipped Minimum Wage

$8.98 /hr.

Pay Frequency and Pay Stubs

Florida doesn’t have any specific laws related to pay frequency and also doesn’t have any laws regarding pay stubs, except for employers that are running a labor pool. For day laborers, their pay stubs must properly itemize any potential deductions.

Mandatory and Optional Benefits

Florida’s laws on benefits can be split into two categories—mandatory and optional.  Mandatory benefits include Social Security, Medicare, federal unemployment tax, and workers’ compensation, which are legally required.

Optional benefits can range from health insurance to retirement plans and paid time off. While not required by Florida law, offering these benefits can be a game-changer in attracting and retaining top talent in the competitive construction industry.

Prevailing Wages in Florida

Prevailing wages refer to the total compensation that must be paid to contractors and subcontractors on public works projects. 

Florida doesn’t have its own state-specific prevailing wage law, having repealed their own in 1979. However, suppose you’re working on a federal project or one that involves federal funding in Florida. In that case, you’ll need to be aware of the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires payment of prevailing wage rates for federally funded construction projects.

The U.S. Department of Labor website is your go-to resource for the most current prevailing wage rates under the Davis-Bacon Act. They have a searchable database where you can find wage determinations by state, county, and type of construction project.

The Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT, website also has information that’s relevant to projects related to transportation and can provide guidance on prevailing wages for associated projects.

Hiring Practices in Florida

In Florida, how you craft your job postings and conduct interviews is the first step in ensuring compliance. Be clear and specific about job duties and qualifications, and be sure to stick to the essentials that are directly related to the job at hand.

During interviews, focus on the candidate’s skills and experience relevant to the position. Avoid any questions potentially construed as discriminatory, such as those concerning age, marital status, gender, religion, or national origin.

Florida does not have state-specific laws regarding background checks, but it’s essential to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA if you use a third-party service when conducting one. To help ensure compliance, always get written consent from the candidate before conducting a background check.

If you decide not to hire based on the background check, you must inform the candidate and give them a chance to correct any inaccuracies that may exist.

Drug testing in Florida follows a more employer-friendly approach compared to some states. However, there are still guidelines to ensure fairness. Ensure you inform applicants that drug testing is part of the hiring process. Also, be sure to apply the drug testing policy uniformly to all applicants for the same position.

Florida adheres to federal anti-discrimination laws and ensures that no job applicant is discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

Additional state-specific protections include the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, which further fortifies the fight against employment discrimination and is enforced by the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Health and Safety Standards in Florida

In Florida, workplace health and safety regulations largely fall under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, the federal body that sets and enforces standards to ensure safe and healthful working conditions. 

OSHA standards cover a range of safety and health issues, from fall protection to machinery maintenance and everything in between. It often requires specific safety training for employees in certain fields, depending on the nature of the work.

Creating a safe work environment is a shared responsibility, and employers and employees play a role in identifying and addressing hazards. Suppose employees have any concerns about a potential workplace hazard. In that case, they have the right to file a complaint with OSHA if they believe there is a serious hazard, or if their employer isn’t correctly following standards.

Child Labor Laws in Florida

In Florida, the process for employing minors begins with understanding work permit requirements. Generally, Florida does not require minors to obtain a work permit. However, employers must maintain proof of age for all minor employees for the duration of their employment.

Florida’s child labor laws set specific age restrictions to protect minors from work that could be harmful to their health or education.

Employment of children under 14 is generally not permitted, except in some non-hazardous roles like newspaper delivery or entertainment. Minors between the ages of 14 and 15 are allowed to work in non-hazardous jobs, but with limited hours. At 16 and 17, minors can work in more types of jobs than younger minors, but certain hazardous occupations are still off-limits.

Florida limits the number of hours minors can work, particularly during school days. During school weeks, 14 and 15-year-olds can work up to 3 hours per day and up to 15 hours per week. Non-school weeks allow up to 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week, but not during school hours.

16 and 17-year-olds have more flexibility but are still limited when school is in session. On top of this, minors are entitled to a 30-minute uninterrupted break after 4 consecutive hours of work.

There are also industry-specific regulations to keep in mind. For example, many roles in construction are classified as hazardous and are therefore prohibited for minors. Also, when minors are employed, extra emphasis should be placed on training and supervision to ensure their safety and compliance with regulations.

Employee Termination and Resignation in Florida

Florida operates under the at-will employment doctrine, meaning the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time, for any legal reason, or for no reason. There are exceptions, such as termination for discriminatory reasons or violating an employment contract.

When you need to terminate an employee, Florida does not require you to notify them before termination. However, it’s wise to document the reasons for termination, as this can be important if a dispute arises later.

While employees are not legally required to give notice, it’s a common courtesy to ask for at least two weeks’ notice.

Employers are not required by law to provide severance pay unless it’s stipulated in a contract or company policy. Some employers choose to offer severance as part of a termination package, which can help smooth the transition and potentially avoid any future disputes.

Florida’s right-to-work law means that employees cannot be required to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. These laws don’t directly impact the termination process but are part of the broader employment landscape in Florida.

Unemployment Benefits in Florida

In Florida, unemployment benefits provide a crucial safety net for individuals who find themselves out of work through no fault of their own.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Florida, an individual must have earned a minimum amount during a base period in the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before filing a claim.

Additionally, they must be able and available for work and actively seeking employment. Filing unemployment benefits involves submitting a claim to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The amount and duration of the unemployment benefits an individual may receive are based on their previous earnings and the overall state unemployment rate.

Employers can learn more about their role in the unemployment benefits process by visiting the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website.

Penalties for Noncompliance in Florida

For any business in Florida, adhering to labor laws isn’t just about ethics; it’s also about avoiding the significant penalties that come with noncompliance.

Monetary Fines

In Florida, failure to carry the requisite workers’ compensation insurance can result in a steep penalty for employers.

If found noncompliant, the fine is calculated at twice the amount the employer should have paid in workers’ compensation premiums over the last two years or a minimum of $1,000, whichever is higher.

Furthermore, a substantial penalty of $5,000 is levied for each individual who has been incorrectly classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Criminal Charges

In extreme cases, such as intentional and severe exploitation of workers, criminal charges can be filed.

Reputational Damage

While not a direct legal penalty, the impact on your business’s reputation can be severe and long-lasting.

Governing Bodies

In Florida, labor law enforcement is managed by several entities, including the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees unemployment insurance and other key labor issues.

The U.S. Department of Labor enforces federal labor laws, which often work in tandem with state regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also plays a crucial role in enforcing workplace safety standards, including construction sites.

Both employees and concerned parties can report violations directly to agencies. Suspected violations can be reported to the relevant state or federal agency, like DEO, DOL, or OSHA.

Resources and Further Reading on Florida Labor Laws

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is your go-to for state-specific labor laws, including minimum wage updates, unemployment claims, and workforce development.

Florida DEO

1-800-204-2418

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is essential for construction industry regulations.

Florida DBPR

1-850-487-1395

Florida Legal Services provides guidance on employment issues and can be a resource for legal aid in employment-related matters.

Florida Legal Services

National Employment Law Project (NELP) offers detailed reports and policy guidance on workers’ rights, unemployment insurance, and wage laws that can be applicable in Florida.

NELP

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers comprehensive information on federal labor laws that apply in Florida.

U.S. Department of Labor

1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that’s crucial for understanding federal and state safety regulations.

OSHA

1-800-321-OSHA (6742)

Additional Resources 🌐

Florida Chamber of Commerce provides updates and resources on business laws and regulations in Florida, including labor laws.

Florida Chamber

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers a wealth of information on employment practices and laws that can be applied within the state of Florida.

SHRM

The Bottom Line on Florida Labor Laws

In our in-depth look at Florida’s labor laws, we’ve covered various topics that are crucial for business leaders, especially those in the construction industry. 

From the specifics of hiring practices, such as job interviews and compliance with anti-discrimination laws, to the deeper complexities of wages, benefits, and overtime regulations, this guide serves as a robust resource for employers and employees alike. 

We’ve explored the differences in state and federal guidelines for meals, breaks, and safety standards, as well as the delicate matters of employee termination, resignation, and unemployment benefits.

Additionally, we navigated through the rules surrounding the employment of minors and the intricacies of leave and paid time off, providing valuable insights for maintaining a compliant workplace.

It’s vital to remember that these guidelines aren’t just about maintaining legal compliance but are also about fostering an ethical and productive work environment. As Florida’s labor laws continue to evolve, staying informed and seeking legal advice for specific scenarios is crucial to compliance and long-term growth.

For many businesses, the only real solution to compliance challenges is great software. The right business-management software tends to come with built-in compliance and recordkeeping rules, regardless of your industry, how many employees you have, what they do, or how widely they’re dispersed across the state (or country).

If you operate a construction or field services company, we humbly suggest trying Workyard for your compliance needs.

Workyard is built around the industry’s most accurate GPS tracking and geofencing technology, which ensures payroll accuracy across your workforce, no matter which job site you send them to or when you need them to work there. Workyard’s timesheet tracking system also comes with built-in federal and state overtime rules, as well as adjustable break rules you can customize at the employee level.

Workyard’s intuitive scheduling dashboard makes it easy to direct your workforce to the jobs you need done, based on their skill sets, their locations, their availability, and (of course) their weekly time worked – so you can avoid unnecessary overtime payments and reduce reimbursible travel expenses.

All of these tools work together to save you money. Minimize payroll waste, ensure regulatory compliance without lifting a finger, accurately assess project costs in real time, and pay your team with ease thanks to seamless payroll processing integrations.

And best of all, you can try it free for 14 days, so you can be sure it’s the right solution for your company. Just click here (or the buttons below) to get started today!

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