Effective January 1, 2021, Florida’s minimum wage rate will increase from $8.56 per hour to $8.65 per hour. Florida’s minimum wage law applies to all employees in the state of Florida who are covered by the federal minimum wage law. For “tipped employees” who meet eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers may take a “tip credit” of up to $3.02 per hour for tips received by the employee. However, they must still pay employees a direct wage. The direct hourly wage for tipped employees in Florida for 2021 is $5.63 (the 2021 Florida minimum wage rate ($8.65) minus the federal tip credit ($3.02)). Both Florida’s minimum wage rate and the direct hourly wage rate for tipped employees are higher than the federal rates, so Florida employers must pay employees the higher Florida rates.
In addition, in November 2020, Florida voters passed Amendment 2 by a constitutional referendum. Effective September 30, 2021, Florida’s minimum wage will rise from $8.65 to $10 an hour and increase $1 every year until it reaches $15 per hour on September 30, 2026. Starting September 30, 2027, Florida’s minimum wage rate will be adjusted annually for inflation.
If employers have not already done so, they should make appropriate pay adjustments for their minimum wage earners. Employers who must pay their employees the Florida minimum wage must post a notice of the state minimum wage requirement (besides posting a notice as required by the FLSA) in a conspicuous and accessible location. The Florida notice is available online.
The next suggested resolution in our series of business resolutions is one that all businesses in Florida should implement, as it is legally required. On January 1, 2019, Florida’s minimum wage will increase from $8.25 to $8.46 an hour. Employers should be prepared to make appropriate pay adjustments for their minimum wage earners. Failing to pay non-exempt employees Florida’s statutory minimum wage can result in claims against employers pursuant to Section 24, Article X of the State Constitution and Section 448.110, Florida Statutes. The maximum tip credit ($3.02) that can be taken by Florida employers with tipped employees will remain the same, but the direct wage paid to tipped employees will increase from $5.23 to $5.44 an hour.
In addition to raising the minimum wage, Florida employers are required to post a minimum wage notice in a conspicuous and accessible location. You can download the 2019 Florida Minimum Wage Notice from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website. This notice requirement is in addition to the requirement that employers post regarding the federal minimum wage (which has not been increased). There will also be commercially available Florida-specific “all-in-one posters” that satisfy both the federal and state notice requirements.
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (“NPRM”) to alter limitations on tip pooling when an employer does not take a tip credit and pays the tipped employees a direct cash wage of at least the federal minimum wage. According to a DOL fact sheet on the NPRM:
As the NPRM explains, since 2011, there has been a significant amount of litigation involving the tip pooling and tip retention practices of employers that pay a direct cash wage of at least the federal minimum wage and do not claim a Fair Labor Standards Act tip credit. There has also been litigation directly challenging the department’s authority to promulgate the provisions of the 2011 regulations that restrict an employer’s use of tips received by its employees when the employer pays a direct cash wage of at least the federal minimum wage and does not take a tip credit. Moreover, in the past several years, several states have changed their laws to require employers to pay tipped employees a direct cash wage that is at least the federal minimum wage. This means that fewer employers can take the FLSA tip credit. The department is issuing this NPRM in part because of these developments and the department’s serious concerns that it incorrectly construed the statute when promulgating the 2011 regulations.
The proposed rule would allow employers to distribute customer tips to larger tip pools that include non-tipped workers, such as cooks and dishwashers. This would likely increase the earnings of those employees who are newly added to the tip pool and further incentivize them to provide good customer service. The proposed rule would additionally provide employers greater flexibility in determining pay practices for tipped and non-tipped workers. It also may allow for a reduction in wage disparities among employees who all contribute to the customers’ experience.
This proposed change does not impact tip pooling when an employer takes a tip credit toward the minimum wage requirement. Employers impacted by this proposed rule have until January 4, 2018, to provide comment on the rule. Comments may be submitted electronically at regulations.gov.