Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that created Florida’s minimum wage in November of 2004. The minimum wage applies to all employees in the state covered by the federal minimum wage. Florida law requires a new minimum wage calculation each year on September 30, based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the South Region for the 12-month period prior to September 1. If that calculation is higher than the federal rate, the state’s rate takes effect the following January.
Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.10 per hour, effective January 1, 2017. As of January 1, 2018, Florida’s minimum wage will be $8.25 per hour, which is approximately a two percent increase and is due to the change in the CPI.
In deciding whether the federal or state minimum wage applies, federal law directs that businesses must pay the higher of the two. The Florida minimum wage will prevail over the federal rate until (and unless) the federal minimum wage becomes higher than the Florida minimum wage. When inflation is positive (i.e., price of consumer goods and services increases), the CPI increases. However, if the CPI is negative, which occurs in times of deflation, the minimum wage does not decrease. This is why Florida’s minimum wage rate did not change in 2016.
Employers of “tipped employees” who meet eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may count tips received as wages under the FLSA. However, Florida employers must still pay tipped employees a direct wage. Effective January 1, 2018, the new minimum wage for tipped employees will be $5.23 per hour.
Employers must pay their employees the state minimum wage for all hours worked in Florida. The definitions of “employer,” “employee,” and “wage” under Florida law are the same as those established under the FLSA.
An employee who has not received the lawful minimum wage after notifying his or her employer and giving the employer 15 days to resolve any claims for unpaid wages may bring a civil action in a court of law against the employer to recover back wages plus damages and attorneys’ fees. The state attorney general or other official designated by the legislature also may bring a civil action to enforce the minimum wage. An employer found liable for intentionally violating minimum wage requirements is subject to a fine of $1,000 per violation, payable to the state.