Do you know your rights on the job?
The HARD TRUTH is the employment laws can’t protect you if you don’t know – and stand up for – your rights. You might be surprised by how far federal and Florida labor laws go to protect you from unpaid wages, unsafe working conditions, excessive overtime, and harassing behavior in the workplace.
This guide will help you understand some of the laws (both Florida labor law and federal law) that protect you while you’re working in this state. You’ll learn why it’s important to know these laws, when workers are covered by the law, and how to get help if your labor rights are violated.
Table of contents
- Why are Federal & Florida Labour Laws so Important?
- What is Covered Under Federal & Florida Labor Laws?
- Minimum Wage
- Overtime exemptions
- Vacation pay
- Bereavement leave
- Meal, rest, etc.
- Pay Period
- Medical leave (FMLA)
- Statute of limitations
- Discrimination & harassment
- Other common violations
- What Do You Do When Your Labor Rights are Violated?
Why are Federal & Florida Labour Laws so Important?
Labor laws are important because they protect your right to the pay you’ve earned, occupational safety, and other reasonable expectations of working for Florida employers. They help to ensure a fairer playing field between employers and employees.
What is Covered Under Federal & Florida Labor Laws?
Below, you’ll find a list of some of the rights that you possess while working in Florida (with some exceptions). For each one, you’ll learn whether you’re protected by federal laws or state laws.
The state of Florida law defers to federal law on the subject of minimum wage as a right of employment. Your right to a minimum wage comes from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. All businesses must comply with both state and federal minimum wage laws. Therefore, the highest wage between the two is the one that applies.
The Florida minimum wage is $10 as of September 30, 2021. It will eventually climb to $15.00 per hour on the following scale:
- Sep 30, 2022: $11.00/hour
- Sep 30, 2023: $12.00/hour
- Sep 30, 2024: $13.00/hour
- Sep 30, 2025: $14.00/hour
- Sep 30, 2026: $15.00/hour
“That means you should be paid at least $10 an hour in Florida in most cases. There are some exceptions to the minimum wage. Federal law provides minimum wage exceptions under specific circumstances for:
- Farmworkers, seasonal workers, other exempt jobs
- Full-time students
- Employees with disabilities
- Employees under 20 years old in their first 90 consecutive days of employment
- Tipped employees
These exemptions do not always allow employers to pay lower wages. For example, at a restaurant, tipped servers can only be paid below minimum wage when their tips can account for the difference between their wage and the legal minimum wage.
Other limits also apply. To pay apprentices less than minimum wage, employers must apply for the exemption and be approved. They may be rejected.
Florida defers to federal overtime law. The FLSA sets most of the rules for paying overtime to non-exempt employees. These rules are then enforced by the Department of Labor.
Under federal law, you are entitled to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a single workweek. Businesses may set their own overtime rate, but it cannot be less than one and one-half of the employee’s current hourly wage rate.
Florida defers to federal law on overtime exemptions.
An overtime exemption is a carve-out for certain roles or occupations that do not receive overtime protection based on hours of work. Many employees who earn salaries for professional work, or who have authority over operations are exempt. For example, professionals (such as doctors and computer scientists), managers, and outside sales employees are all listed as exempt. Contractors are also typically exempt from these and many other protections. Not all employees are correctly classified as independent contractors.
Have you been denied overtime because of an exemption? You may be a misclassified employee. A lawyer can help you determine if you are properly classified, and help you claim any unpaid wages due to lost overtime hours.
Vacation pay is not covered by federal law or Florida statutes The FLSA does not require employers to make any payments for time not worked, including vacation pay. Florida has not passed any laws that would require employees to provide paid vacation days.
Employers can be forced to honor vacation pay clauses in contracts and agreements. If your employer has promised vacation pay but refused to provide the benefit, a lawyer may be able to help you.
Bereavement leave is not covered by federal or Florida state law. Bereavement leave is a policy that exists in some countries and US states. It entitles people to an amount of time off to make final arrangements for a loved one.
Employers are not required to offer this right, though it must be honored if it is documented as a benefit of employment. Most employee handbooks will document the policy that is in place.
Florida law does not offer any break to adults. There is no federal law requiring breaks that Florida must adhere to, so the state policy stands.
State child labor laws carve out some exceptions for minors. Minors (under 18 years of age) are given 30-minute breaks every four hours. While employers are not required to offer breaks, there are some rules they must follow if they do.
Meal, rest, etc.
Federal law does not require employers to provide meal breaks, or any other type of rest break. Florida also doesn’t require breaks for anyone over the age of 18.
Meal periods are a common feature of American working life, even without legal support. These periods typically last half an hour to a full hour. It is not illegal for your boss to request that you clock out during meal breaks.
Pay periods are considered to be an area of state law. No major federal laws require paychecks to go out on a certain schedule. Only three states don’t have their own rules for paycheck frequency, but Florida is one of them.
Medical leave (FMLA)
Florida defers to federal law on the area of medical leave. Federal rules are mostly set by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave when they need to care for themselves or a family member.
If you are an eligible employee, the FMLA protects your position for a limited time until you return. It gives you the right to reclaim your previous title, pay, and responsibilities if all conditions are met.
Statute of limitations
Statutes of limitations apply to most violations of employee rights. For example, if you aren’t properly paid overtime, you will lose your right to make a claim within (2) years. This limit is part of the federal law, and the limitations are not supplemented by Florida state law.
Penalties for overtime violations in Florida
Florida state law defers to federal law on remedies for overtime violations. Employers may be subject to a $1,000 per violation fine for willful violations of overtime rules. In most cases, employers will have 15 days to resolve the unpaid wages before a suit can be pursued.
Discrimination & Harrassment
Florida state law yields to federal law in the area of discrimination and harassment. Your right to a workplace free of these features is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This commission continues to interpret and enforce anti-discrimination rules. The following classes are protected federally from discrimination:
- Religion or creed
- National origin or ancestry
- Sex (including gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
- Physical or mental disability
- Veteran status
- Genetic information
The EEOC can perform investigations on your behalf if you file a complaint through their online portal. Employers who are found to have discriminated against their employees in violation of the law may be required to pay fines, restore prior titles and wages, and/or provide other types of financial restitution.
What Do You Do When Your Labor Rights are Violated?
This overview of the Florida labor law outlines some of the protections afforded employees and the rights and privileges that you can expect in the workplace. You also know more about whether those protections are a result of federal law or local Florida laws.
You may have come to the realization that your employer’s policy doesn’t meet legal standards. When your rights to the minimum wage, overtime. medical leave or other parts of the job are not recognized, you should speak to an employment lawyer.
Our Florida labor law firm specializes in employment issues Floridians face in the workplace. We only represent employees, and may be able to help if your rights have been violated. As opposed to a general lawyer, helping Florida workers with employment matters is all we do.