Effective September 30, 2021, the minimum wage in Florida will increase from $8.65 an hour to $10 an hour. It will then continue to increase each year by $1 for the next 4 years until it reaches $15 an hour on September 30, 2026. This increase in the minimum wage is a result of an amendment to Florida’s Constitution that was passed by Florida voters in the November 2020 election. Since minimum wage is an area where many small businesses run into problems, it is important that your business be prepared for these changes.

Remember, under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers must pay employees at least the minimum wage for their time worked and one and half times the employee’s standard hourly rate for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. While there are a number of exceptions under FLSA, including, students, tipped workers, seasonal workers, and exempt employees (administrative, professionals, executives, outside sales); these exemptions either require the employer to pay more than minimum wage or comply with very specific requirements such as for tipped workers or students. For many small businesses, most, if not all of their employees’ wages are subject to FLSA. Also, note that under the law, it is the employer’s burden to keep a record of the employee’s time, so if there is no accurate record of the time worked by the employee, the court will accept the number of hours the employee states he/she worked.

Any violation of FLSA, even a minor one, can be devastating for a small business and result in thousands of dollars in penalties and legal fees. This is often due to two reasons, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees. Unless it is found that the employer acted in good faith and reasonably believed it had complied with the law, the employer will be charged liquidated damages equal to the amount of back pay owed. Also, under the statute, if the employee prevails, the employer will also have to pay the employee’s lawyer. These attorney’s fees can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

If you have any questions regarding employee wages or any other employment related matters, please contact Ser & Associates. We’ll help you and your business get prepared. You can contact us at 305.222.7282 or Info@Ser-Associates.com.

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