Florida Minimum Wage and Overtime Law: Are You an Exempt Employee?
While there are laws that regulate minimum wage and overtime pay, it’s important for employees and employers to understand that not all of those laws apply to all employees. Under certain circumstances, a worker is not entitled to overtime pay or minimum wage because the employee is exempt under federal law or state law. You should always discuss your specific situation with a qualified wage and hour dispute lawyer in Florida. Here is an overview of the wage and hour laws and a few of the most common exemptions from paying overtime and minimum wages to certain employees.
Florida v. Federal Minimum Wage Law
Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the US Congress sets the national minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour for most workers. Tipped employees must be paid $2.13 per hour. Federal law allows states to set their own minimum wage so long as it isn’t lower than the federal hourly rate. Florida has enacted legislation that sets the state minimum wage rates at $8.10 per hour for most employees, and $5.08 per hour for tipped employees. These , amounts took effect on January 1, 2017.
The FLSA also requires employers to pay employees overtime pay for any time worked in excess of 40 hours in one work week. The overtime pay rate is 1.5 times the regular hourly rate of pay. For non-exempt salaried employees, it’s necessary to convert the annual salary to a weekly average, and then divide the weekly salary by the number of hours worked to obtain the hourly rate of pay. A common misunderstanding about overtime hours is that an employer pay must pay overtime when an employee works on holidays or weekends. In fact an employer does not have to pay overtime compensation to an employee simply because he or she happens to work on a holiday or during the weekend; of course if working on the holiday or the weekend causes the employee to work over 40 hours in that week, then the employer must pay the overtime rate for those excess hours.
Certain “White Collar” Employees Are Exempt from Overtime Requirements
Federal law on minimum wage and overtime pay do not apply to all employees. Employers are exempt from paying overtime and minimum wages to certain “white collar” employees that pass a three-tiered test:
- The employee is paid on a salary basis, rather than on an hourly basis;
- The worker’s salary is above a minimum level; and,
- The employee’s primary job responsibilities are executive, administrative, or professional in nature. This third requirement contains specific duties and responsibilities that each of these categories of employees must perform. For example, an exempt “executive” must supervise at least two full time employees or the equivalent, and have hiring and firing authority or at least recommend hiring and firing to the decision maker. Administrators must . . .
New regulations were set to become effective in December of last year that would have significantly increased the salary to qualify as an exempt employee; however, a federal judge in Texas blocked the regulation from going into effect shortly before its implementation. As such, employers and employees should keep an eye on whether the regulation will stand or not this year.
It is noteworthy to mention that under the federal rules, an employee’s title isn’t a factor in determining whether the employee is an exempt executive, administrative, or professional, but rather it is the actual pay and job duties that will determine whether they are exempt. In other words, an employee who is paid a salary, but does not meet the other required duties or qualifications to be exempt, he or she is “non-exempt” and must be paid overtime compensation when working over 40 hours in a week. In short, the employee must meet all the criteria before being considered exempt. If the employee doesn’t meet all of the criteria, then he or she is entitled to be paid overtime at the 1.5 times rate according to federal law.
If your employer has catergorized you as an exempt employee, but you believe that you do not meet all of the criteria to be exempt, then you should seek counsel from a qualified employment lawyer. Likewise, if you are an employer and wish to be sure that your employees are truly exempt, you too should seek a consultation from a qualified employment lawyer. The monetary consequences for misclassifying employees as exempt when they are not can be significant since the law requires double back pay damages and reimbursing the employee’s attorney for attorney’s fees and court costs. The employment lawyers at Penichet Law can advise you more about your options and can represent your rights in connection with any wage claim you have or must defend. If you have any questions or doubts, please contact our Miami office for more information or questions about your matter.