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Many employers are aware of federal employment laws that apply to their organizations.  However, a number of Florida businesses are unaware that certain state and local laws apply to their organizations and that these laws may be stricter than their federal counterparts.

Minimum Wage:  In 2004, a constitutional amendment was adopted that established minimum wage rates for Florida employers.  Each year the minimum wage rate is adjusted for inflation.  In 2016, the rate minimum wage rate for Florida employers will be $8.05 per hour ($5.03 for tipped employees).  A Florida minimum wage poster, which is revised each year, must be posted in common areas where employees can see it.

Guns at Work:  Florida employers are obligated to allow employees who have concealed weapons permits to keep guns locked in personal vehicles while at work.  Employers may not ask about whether or not an employee has a gun in their vehicle nor may they search the employee’s vehicle for such a weapon.  Additionally, the employer may not discriminate against nor fire an employee who exercises his or her right to bear arms. There are some exceptions to this rule; however, they are limited. The text of the law can be found in the Florida statutes.

Florida Civil Rights Act: The Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, pregnancy or marital status.  This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and requires that employers post a “Florida Law Prohibits Discrimination” poster.  The poster can be downloaded from the Florida Commission on Human Relations website.  The FCHR is responsible for enforcing this law.

Domestic Violence Leave & Sexual Assault: Requires Florida employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees up to 3 days of leave in a twelve-month period if the employee or a family or household member is a victim of domestic violence or a sexual assault. It covers employees who have worked for the employer for 3 months or longer.

E-verify: Employers with contracts or subcontracts with the State of Florida must enroll and use the federal E-verify system to confirm the individuals they are employing are legally permitted to work in the United States.

Florida Clean Indoor Air Act:  Florida employers are obligated to maintain smoke-free work environments.  This means that no one may be permitted to smoke within enclosed, indoor workplaces.  There are some limited exceptions to this statute.

Data Protections: Requires employer to safeguard personal information, which includes a person’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with a Social Security number, passport number, driver’s license number, bank account information or health insurance policy number. Breaches must be reported to the Florida Department of Legal Affairs and consumers within 30 days.

Workers’ Compensation:  Requires construction industry employers with 1 or more employees and general industry employers with 4 or more employees to maintain Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage.

Unemployment:  Unemployment (or reemployment as it’s termed in Florida) is a joint federal-state program that provides terminated workers with cash benefits during temporary unemployment.  Employers are taxed on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages and the tax rate varies based on the utilization/experience of the company. The Florida Department of Revenue administers this program.

New Hire Reporting:  All employers must report new hires to the designated state agency. This data will be transmitted to a national director for use in locating workers who owe child support and detecting fraud and abuse in unemployment programs, workers’ compensation, and other public assistance programs.

Additionally, many municipalities within the state have additional ordinances with which the employer must comply.  Such local ordinances may include a requirement that the employer pay an employee’s wages when he or she is called to jury service, a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a requirement to include grandparents in the definition of family member for purposes of granting family & medical leave, etc.

These are just some of the employment laws with which Florida employers must comply.  Many companies that operate in Florida find it beneficial to belong to a local trade association such as an employers association, chamber of commerce, etc. in order to stay up-to-date on state and federal employment laws.

Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here to learn more about EAF membership benefits http://eafinc.org/about-eaf/value-of-membership/