If you’re an employer, you can pay your employees as high a wage as you want because there is no upper legal limit on wages. However, there is a legally mandated lower limit. Hence, you can’t pay any employee less than the applicable minimum wage.
There is more than one minimum wage in the United States. There is a federal minimum wage set by the United States Congress. This minimum wage is currently only $7.25 per hour. It has not gone up since 2009.
But, in most states, the federal minimum wage does not apply.
Twenty-nine states have established their minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum. When a state’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum, that state’s employees must get paid at least the state minimum. One of these states is Florida.
h2 How much is Florida’s minimum wage?
It changes each year. The reason being that Florida adjusts its minimum wage each year for inflation.
For 2019, Florida’s minimum wage is $8.46 per hour. The minimum wage is $8.56 starting January 1, 2020.
The inflation calculation gets done each September 30 based on the Consumer Price Index. However, if the inflation rate is negative, the minimum wage cannot go down. Something that actually happened in 2016.
You can see the inflation calculations involved at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 2020 Florida Minimum Wage Calculations web page.
h2 Can tipped workers get paid less than the state’s legal minimum wage?
Yes. The minimum wage works differently for workers who receive tips from customers. This category includes waiters and waitresses.
Florida employers of tipped employees may count the tips their employees receive as wages. With this calculation, it enables an employer to pay a cash wage that is less than the minimum wage.
To do so, however, employers must meet eligibility requirements for the “tip credit” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Here are the requirements:
- The employees must qualify as tipped employees. These are employees who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips. Typically, this includes employees like servers, bartenders, and bussers.
- Also, employers must give tipped employees that the tip credit applies. It’s best to give notice in writing.
Florida employers have to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage and obligates them to pay tipped employees a direct hourly wage.
The direct wage is equal to the minimum wage minus the 2003 tip credit of $3.02. For 2019, the direct wage is $5.44 ($8.46 – $3.02 = $5.44). Starting January 1, 2020, the direct wage is $5.54 ($8.456 – $3.02 = $5.54).
h2 Are all Floriday workers covered by the minimum wage law?
No. Florida’s minimum wage law applies only to workers classified as employees for tax and legal purposes. Independent contractors are not covered.
Under state rules, Florida’s minimum wage law applies to most types of employees. But some employees are not covered. These include:
- Executive, administrative, and professional employees. This group includes teachers and academic administrative personnel in elementary and secondary schools, outside sales employees, and certain skilled computer professionals.
- Employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments.
- Employees of specific small newspapers.
- Seamen employed on foreign vessels.
- Employees engaged in fishing operations.
- Employees engaged in newspaper delivery.
- Farm workers employed on small farms. A small farm uses less than 500 “man days” of farm labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year.
- Casual babysitters.
- People hired to provide fellowship and protection (companionship services) to seniors or individuals with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. But this does not include people engaged through an agency, non-profit or other third-party employers.
h2 Can employers pay young workers less than the full minimum wage?
Yes. Employers can pay workers under the age of 20, a special “training wage.” The training wage is $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment. After the initial 90 days are up (or when the employee turns 20, whichever comes first), the employee must get a raise to at least the full minimum wage.
h2 Do employers have to pay their employees an hourly wage?
No. There is no legal requirement that employers pay employees an hourly wage. For example, they can get paid on commission or piecework basis. But such employees must earn the applicable minimum wage rate for every hour worked.
If an employee’s commissions or other compensation does equal or exceed the amount computed as the minimum wage for the pay period, the employer must make up the difference on the same payday.
h2 Who enforces Florida’s minimum wage laws?
Employees who don’t receive minimum wages can sue their employers. An employee is first required to notify the employer that he or she has not received the minimum wage. The employer then has 15 days to resolve the situation. If there is no resolution, the employee can file suit.
Employers who fail to comply with the minimum wage laws can be required to pay back wages plus damages and attorney’s fees. In addition, an employer found liable for intentionally violating minimum wage requirements is subject to a fine of $1,000 per violation, payable to the state.
The Florida Attorney General or other officials designated by the Legislature may bring also file lawsuits to enforce the minimum wage.
h2 Do employers have to inform employees about the minimum wage?
Yes. Florida law requires employers to post a minimum wage notice that lets employees know about the minimum wage. Employers must post the notice in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where employees work.
Florida’s minimum wage poster is available for download in English, Spanish, and Creole from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website at http://www.floridajobs.org.
Employers must also post a notice of the federal minimum wage. The poster is downloadable from the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm.