Employment and labor laws in Florida [Updated 2023]


Sep 11, 2023

Employment laws are beneficial to employers and employees alike. They protect workers from unsafe working conditions and discrimination, and offer guidelines to employers as they navigate pay, hiring practices, terminations, and more. 

In the United States, employers are subject to both federal and state requirements—the latter often differ from state to state, and they frequently evolve. The state of Florida largely follows federal guidelines and, in some instances, expands on them. For example, Florida offers a higher minimum wage than the one set by the federal government. If you’re hiring in the Sunshine State, you’ll need to ensure you’re in compliance with local legislation to avoid penalties.

Want to rest assured you’re in line with Florida’s regulations? Scale your business faster by letting Rippling’s Professional Employer Organization service handle your tax registration and management.

Employment vs. labor law: What’s the difference?

It’s common to use employment law and labor law interchangeably, but did you know there are legal differences between the two terms? Employment law is used to describe issues that concern the relationship between an employer and an individual, while labor law refers to matters between an employer and a group of people, usually a labor union. In fact, labor law is a subset of employment law.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each term:

  • Employment law covers topics like overtime pay, child labor laws, hours, wages, overtime, hiring practices, workplace discrimination, and retaliation.
  • Labor law includes union membership, dues, and collective bargaining agreements.

Wages and hours in Florida

Florida employers must adhere to state regulations that go beyond federal legislation. The state government is currently in the process of updating its minimum wage laws, and it has strict regulations for overtime pay.

Minimum wage in Florida

Florida’s minimum wage laws are currently being updated. At the time of writing, the minimum wage is $11.00 per hour for all employers, regardless of company size. This is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. On September 30, 2023, the minimum wage will be increased to $12 per hour. From there, it will go up $1 each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

When setting hourly wages for employees, Rippling automatically flags minimum wage violations based on the state regulations where employees are located—which is especially useful for ensuring compliance in Florida, where the minimum wage is higher than the federal rate.

Overtime pay in Florida

Sometimes, employees need to work longer than their usual hours to complete a project. When this occurs, the state of Florida has overtime laws in place that govern how much employers are required to pay employees for the extra time. Under state law, any hours over 40 hours worked in a seven-day period are considered overtime, and employees are entitled to receive 1.5x their usual rate for each hour worked.

Rippling’s payroll software helps you adhere to Florida’s overtime pay laws. It automatically applies the correct pay rates when an employee’s hours trigger overtime pay requirements.

Pay transparency in Florida

Pay transparency is currently a hot topic in the United States, and many states are passing laws that require employers to be more forthcoming about the salary ranges at their companies. In addition to creating trust between employers and employees, pay transparency laws serve an important function in preventing wage disparities based on factors like gender, race, and age. So far, the state of Florida has not passed any pay transparency laws, but that could change in the future.

Rippling enforces compensation bands during onboarding and flags out-of-band adjustments, so you can approve special cases and block others as needed.

Breaks and rest periods in Florida

Florida employers are not legally mandated to offer employees rest or meal breaks. However, it’s common practice to give workers a 15-minute rest break and a meal break—both unpaid—during an eight-hour shift.

Leaves of absence in Florida

At times, people need to take a leave of absence from work to care for a sick family member, recover from an illness, or navigate a serious health condition. When this happens, federal and state leave laws ensure their jobs are protected until they are able to return to work. 

While Florida employers must follow the regulations set forth by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the state has no additional laws that require employers to offer paid leave. 

Under Florida leave laws, employees who work for a company with 50+ employees can take up to three days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. This leave can be used in cases of domestic violence—for victims and family members. Employees must have been working for the company for at least three months to be eligible, and you can require them to use any accrued vacation time before granting them domestic violence leave.

Pregnancy disability leave in Florida

Under the FMLA, employers are required to provide nonexempt employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for certain protected, pregnancy-related reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe morning sickness
  • Loss of the pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Recovery from childbirth

This federal law is supported by Florida Leave Laws, which mandate employees meet certain eligibility requirements before they qualify for pregnancy disability leave. These requirements are as follows:

  • The employee must have been working for the company for at least 12 consecutive months.
  • The employee must have completed a minimum of 1,250 hours of work in the last 12 consecutive months.
  • The employer must have 50 or more employees working in a 75-mile radius.

It’s illegal for an employer to fire an employee due to their pregnancy-related disability. Furthermore, in Florida, if the employee does not qualify for paid pregnancy-related leave, you must give them unpaid time off.

Paid sick leave in Florida

Florida has no additional laws beyond the federal Family and Medical Leave Act that require employers to offer either paid or unpaid sick leave.

Rippling allows you to automate and customize your leave policy, giving you full visibility into how employees are utilizing it.

Workplace safety in Florida

Employers must maintain a safe, healthy working environment for all employees. Among other things, they have to offer safety training to workers, identify and remove hazards, and implement policies that protect employees from hazards (i.e. anything that could cause injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace). 

The US has federal laws in place to protect employees from unsafe working conditions. These are enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, commonly known as OSHA. While some states have their own regulations in addition to these laws, Florida is not one of them. There are no additional Florida statutes that employers must follow. 

Rippling's PEO offers a convenient pay-as-you-go workers’ comp plan that doesn’t require you to pay upfront for the entire year, so you can scale your business stress-free in Florida and anywhere else in the US. 

Discrimination and harassment laws in Florida

Florida has comprehensive legal protections in place against both discrimination and harassment in the workplace that go beyond the tenets of the Federal Civil Rights Act. Under the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), it’s illegal for employers—regardless of company size—to discriminate against job applicants and employees based on a number of protected characteristics. 

These protected characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Skin color
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy status
  • Age
  • Marital status

The FCRA also makes workplace harassment illegal. Harassment is more than a one-off occurrence or a tasteless joke; instead, it’s legally defined as unwelcome conduct exhibited towards an employee based on one or more of the protected characteristics listed above. Some examples of what would be considered harassment include racial slurs, insulting jokes, demeaning gestures, inappropriate photos, verbal threats, sexual assaults, or any conduct that threatens an employee’s well-being at work. 

Sexual harassment training requirements vary by state. Although the state of Florida does not specifically require employers and employees to attend training, it’s still a good way to ensure a healthy working environment. Rippling’s Learning Management System is pre-loaded with core sexual harassment training courses to ensure each employee meets the state requirements based on where they live. 

One final note: Under federal law, employers aren’t only liable for the discrimination and harassment they commit; they are also responsible for the words and actions of their employees, regardless of whether they were aware of a problem or not.

Unions in Florida

When two or more employees form a group to advance fair working conditions, they form a labor union. Unions collectively bargain with employers to negotiate the terms of employment contracts. Union reps frequently advocate for higher wages, more overtime pay, and better benefits, including improved healthcare.

Union rights are enshrined in US labor law under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This 1935 law guarantees employees the right to:

  • Organize or join a union to negotiate with their employer
  • Bargain collectively by choosing their own representatives
  • Discuss their employment terms and conditions with coworkers
  • Take action to improve working conditions by filing complaints with their employer or the government, or seeking help from a union
  • Strike and picket, depending on the reason
  • Abstain from joining a union

Furthermore, the NLRA has made it illegal for employees to be coerced in any way by unions or employers for supporting—or not supporting—a union. For instance, employers cannot terminate employees for joining a union, and labor unions are legally prohibited from threatening employees who don’t become members.

In addition to federal legislation, there are also state-level, union-related laws, like “right-to-work” laws. Under these laws, employees have the right to decide whether or not they want to become union members. Florida was one of the first right-to-work states in the US; it enacted this legislation back in 1943.

FAQs about Florida labor and employment laws

Are independent contractors covered under Florida employment laws?

No. In the state of Florida, independent contractors have very few rights; they are even exempt from employment laws that govern wages and working hours. Our analyzer tool can help you ensure you’re classifying workers correctly and complying with employment regulations.

Does at-will employment exist in Florida?

Yes, Florida is an at-will employment state. This means either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship without notice or reason.

What privacy rights do employees have in Florida?

The 2014 Florida Information Protection Act (FIPA) requires employers to protect all sensitive data—both that of their consumers and that of their employees—and to report any data breaches that occur. 

Although Florida passed new privacy legislation as recently as this year, it’s been focused on consumer protection, not employee privacy.

Are background checks legal in Florida?

Yes, Florida employers are permitted to run background checks on both job applicants and employees. There are no limits on an employer’s ability to conduct a criminal background check, unlike in other states.

Are whistleblowers protected in Florida?

Yes. The Florida Private Whistleblower Act, found under the state’s General Labor Regulations, protects the employees of private employers from retaliation for reporting illegal activities at their company. Similarly, the Florida Public Whistleblower Act, found under the Florida Statutes, protects public-sector and state whistleblowers from retaliatory actions.

Is workers’ compensation coverage required in Florida?

Yes. In the state of Florida, most employers with four or more employees are legally mandated to provide workers’ compensation insurance to employees who become ill or are injured due to a workplace-related cause. These benefits extend to independent contractors as well. 

Are there required healthcare benefits in Florida?

Under the Affordable Care Act—a federal law—employers with 50 or more full-time employees are legally mandated to provide health insurance coverage. There are no additional Florida statutes employers must adhere to.

Are Florida employers required to provide bereavement leave?

No, Florida employees are not entitled to bereavement leave, nor are they entitled to leave to attend a funeral.

What employee protections are available in Florida if layoffs occur?

Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employees at covered businesses have the right to a 60-day notice period before being laid off. Florida employers must adhere to this law.

Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employees at covered businesses have the right to a 60-day notice period before being laid off. Florida employers must adhere to this law.

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: November 30, 2023

The Author

Carrie Stemke

A freelance writer and editor based in New York City, Carrie writes about HR trends and global workforce management and is the Rippling content team’s expert on hiring know-how in Western Europe.