What would an extra $1.12 a day, $5.60 a week, or $291.20 a year mean to you? Fourteen-cents an hour may seem like small change, but for nearly two hundred thousand minimum wage workers in Florida, it will result in an increased paycheck starting January 1st, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Monday.
That's when an automatic increase goes into effect, raising the lowest pay rate in Florida to $7.93, up from $7.79.
The same fourteen-cent increase will apply to minimum-wage tipped employees, whose rates will go from $4.71 to $4.91 an hour.
In 2004, Floridians voted by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin to amend the Constitution to enact a state minimum wage. Under the voter-approved amendment, the minimum wage would increase every January to keep pace with any cost of living increase the past year. In those rare instances where the cost of living decreased, the minimum wage would remain the same.
Eight states have laws that tier their minimum wage to the federal rate, the cost of living and inflation. In addition to Florida, each of these states – Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and Washington – raised their minimum wage for 2013 to account for inflation.
“Raising the minimum wage is not a real boost to the economy and will definitely raise the unemployment rate among low-skilled people and teenagers,” Boca Raton public relations guru Barry Epstein told Examiner. “More lower-skill Americans will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. Raising an employee wage is not as simple as supersizing your Happy Meal."
Impacted are approximately 647,000 Americans who earn minimum wage. Two hundred thousand of these low-wage workers live in Florida.
According to the DEO, employers in Florida must pay employees the hourly state minimum wage for all hours worked. The definitions of employer, employee, and wage for state purposes are the same as those established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Employers of tipped employees - who meet eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the FLSA - may count tips actually received as wages under the Florida minimum wage. However, an employer must pay tipped employees a direct wage. The direct wage is calculated as equal to the minimum wage ($7.93) minus the 2003 tip credit ($3.02), or a direct hourly wage of $4.91 as of January 1, 2014.
Employees who are not paid the minimum wage may bring a civil action against their employer or any person violating Florida's minimum wage law. The state attorney general may also bring an enforcement action to enforce the minimum wage. FLSA information and compliance assistance can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/compliance/comp-flsa.htm.
Florida Statute also requires an employer who must pay employees the Florida minimum wage to post a minimum wage notice in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where these employees work. This poster requirement is in addition to the federal requirement to post a notice of the federal minimum wage.
The federal poster can be downloaded from the U.S. Department of Labor's website at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm.
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