Labor and Employment Law Overview: Florida

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Florida law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide equal pay and protect whistleblowers. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Florida permits preemployment background checks and drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Florida, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Florida has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including payment of wages, wage deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Florida law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including domestic violence leave, jury duty leave, witness leave, military leave and Civil Air Patrol leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Florida prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving, and permits employees to carry a firearm in a privately owned motor vehicle on employer property. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Florida employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Florida

Florida has a few laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including protection against discrimination based on marital status, a higher minimum wage and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, and generally follows federal law on topics such as consumer credit checks, overtime pay and occupational safety and health.

Select Florida employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Florida requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Florida Civil Rights Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The law prohibits employment discrimination based on protected characteristics including:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Pregnancy (including childbirth and related medical conditions);
  • National origin;
  • Disability;
  • Age; and
  • Marital status.

In addition, Florida prohibits discrimination against any individual who:

  • Has or is perceived to have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); or
  • Has the sickle-cell trait.

Equal Pay

Florida prohibits pay discrimination based on sex for jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions. The law covers any employer with two or more employees if the employer is not subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Differentiations in pay are permissible if made under:

  • A seniority system;
  • A merit system;
  • A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • Any reasonable factor other than sex.

Whistleblower Protections

Florida employers may not take adverse employment action against an employee because he or she has:

  • Disclosed, or threatened to disclose, to any government agency an activity, policy or practice of the employer that violates a law, rule or regulation, provided that the employee first brought the activity, policy or practice to the attention of a supervisor and gave the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct it;
  • Provided information or testimony in connection with any investigation, hearing or inquiry into an alleged violation of a law, rule or regulation by the employer; or
  • Objected to, or refused to participate in, any activity, policy or practice of the employer that violates a law, rule or regulation.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Florida can be found in the Florida Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Florida, EEO - Harassment: Florida, EEO - Retaliation: Florida, Disabilities (ADA): Florida, Employee Discipline: Florida, Florida Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Wyoming, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Florida requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Consumer Reports

Florida's consumer credit reporting law is similar to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Each restricts an employer's ability to use employee credit reports or investigative employee consumer reports without a job applicant's written consent.

Drug Testing

Florida employers may conduct preemployment drug and alcohol tests of job applicants as a condition of employment, but are not obligated to do so. Prior to testing, an employer should give all applicants a written policy that contains a general statement of its policy on drug use.

In order to qualify for a drug-free workplace program designation and for workers' compensation premium discounts, an employer must meet certain standards, such as giving notice to job applicants and providing them with the testing procedures, including how to object to the results and explain positive results, prior to testing.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Florida can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Florida and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Florida requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The Florida Minimum Wage Act requires that the state minimum wage rate be adjusted for inflation. The current rate is $8.25 per hour. A separate minimum wage rate exists for tipped employees and there are exceptions to the state minimum wage rate.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Florida restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations, which have been specifically designated by law for those 17 and under and those 15 and under. Minors 10 years and younger may not work distributing newspapers.

When school is in session, 16- and 17-year-olds may not work:

  • Before 6:30 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. when school is scheduled the following day;
  • More than 30 hours in any week;
  • More than eight hours in any day when school is scheduled the following day;
  • During school hours, unless they are enrolled in a career education program; and
  • More than six consecutive days in a week.

There are no restrictions during holidays and summer vacations.

When school is in session, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work:

  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. when school is scheduled the following day;
  • More than 15 hours in any week;
  • More than three hours in any school day, unless they are enrolled in a career education program or unless there is no school the following day; and
  • More than six consecutive days in a week.

During holidays and summer vacations, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work:

  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.;
  • More than 40 hours in any week;
  • More than eight hours in any day; and
  • More than six consecutive days in a week.

There are some exceptions to Florida's hours of work restrictions.

Minors who work for more than four continuous hours are entitled to meal break of at least 30 minutes.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Florida can be found in Minimum Wage: Florida, Child Labor: Florida, Florida Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Florida requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

An employer may pay employees by:

  • Cash;
  • Check, draft, note, memorandum or other acknowledgment of indebtedness, as long as it is negotiable and payable on demand at an established place of business in the state;
  • Direct deposit into an account at a financial institution of the employee's choosing, as long as the employee has consented in writing; or
  • Payroll debit card if the cards are negotiable and payable in cash, on demand, without discount at an established place of business in the state, the name and address of which appears in the payroll debit card issuing materials.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make deductions from an employee's wages if it receives an income withholding order or writ of garnishment.

Health Care Continuation

The Florida Health Insurance Coverage Continuation Act applies to employers with fewer than 20 employees. Florida law allows eligible employees to elect continued coverage for up to 18 months (29 in the case of disability) with a maximum premium of 115 percent of the applicable group rate (150 percent during the 11-month disability extension).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Florida can be found in Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Florida, Payment of Wages: Florida, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Florida and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal, Payment of Wages: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Florida has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees. These laws include:

  • Domestic violence leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees);
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Civil Air Patrol leave (covering employers with 15 or more employees).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Florida can be found in the Florida Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Other Leaves: Florida, Jury Duty: Florida, USERRA: Florida and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Florida requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act bans smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces. The restrictions apply to indoor areas of workplaces occupied by one or more persons, which are totally or predominantly enclosed.

Weapons in the Workplace

Under Florida law, an employer generally may not:

  • Prevent or limit employees from lawfully possessing a firearm in a privately owned motor vehicle;
  • Ask an employee whether he or she is carrying a firearm inside a vehicle on the employer's parking lot;
  • Search vehicles for firearms; and
  • Prevent any employee from entering the employer's parking lot because the employee's vehicle contains a legal firearm that is out of sight and is being carried for lawful purposes.

Safe Driving Practices

Florida bans texting while driving.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Florida can be found in the Florida Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Florida, Workplace Security: Florida, HR and Workplace Safety: Florida and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal, Workplace Security: Federal and HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Florida requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

If an employee dies before all wages due have been paid, the employer may pay any amount of wages or travel expenses that are due to the following individuals in the order listed:

  1. Surviving spouse;
  2. Child(ren) over age 18; or
  3. Parent.

References

Under Florida law, employers are entitled to immunity from defamation claims for good-faith comments about the job performance of current or former employees. That protection will apply unless the employer knowingly provides false information or provides information in violation of a civil right.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Florida can be found in Payment of Wages: Florida, Employee Communications: Florida and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Florida? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.