EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

Florida Minimum Wage to Increase, Voters Decide

By Kris Janisch
Published Nov. 9, 2020

Florida Minimum Wage Rates

Florida voters narrowly passed a ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to eventually increase minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Florida voters on Election Day 2020 passed a ballot initiative that will eventually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The ballot measure ties minimum wage in Florida to the state’s constitution — it marked the first time that happened at the polls rather than through legislation. (Employers should also note that Colorado voters passed a paid family and medical leave law through the 2020 ballot.)

Florida Minimum Wage: Future Rates

Today, the Florida minimum wage is $8.56 an hour, a little higher than the federal rate of $7.25.

Each Sept. 30 in the coming years, minimum wage for non-tipped employees will be:

  • 2021 – $10
  • 2022 – $11
  • 2023 – $12
  • 2024 – $13
  • 2025 – $14
  • 2026 – $15

After 2026, rate increases in Florida will go up according to the Consumer Price Index.

Minimum Wage Management. Simplified.

Florida Vote Minimum Wage

The vote was close. With 60 percent in favor needed to pass, Amendment 2 garnered about 61 percent of the vote.

With the amendment’s passage, Florida is now the eighth state to pass a law to eventually bring its minimum to $15, part of the momentum of the nationwide Fight for $15. Proponents of the measure, citing an MIT study, said single adults must earn $12 to earn a living wage in Florida.

Still, business groups in Florida opposed the measure.

“Given the devastating impacts COVID-19 has already had on Florida’s economy, we are extremely worried about the job losses and business closures that will accompany this mandate,” Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said in a press release. “We are proud of our small business owners and employees from across the state who came together to fight this amendment. We have seen too many places across the country that have implemented this wage hike, only to see workers who were promised more money instead lose their jobs altogether. We are worried about our small businesses and the Floridians who will lose their jobs.”

Finally, the tip credit remains the same — $3.02. That means the tipped employee wage will always be the regular minimum wage less that amount.

Minimum Wage Nationwide

Though the pandemic has led news reports regarding employment law in recent months, minimum wage remains a hot topic for lawmakers and employers alike.

Dozens of jurisdictions across the U.S. will see minimum wage increases at the start of 2021, many at the local level. About half of states still follow the federal rate of $7.25.

History of Minimum Wage Infographic August 2019The federal rate hasn’t been increased in more than a decade, the longest stretch in the nation’s history, which has prompted smaller levels of government to create their own minimum wages. Indeed, two Maine cities put a minimum wage increase to voters in 2020.

To see Florida, which went to President Trump, pass a minimum wage ballot measure is interesting. Despite its political leanings, a progressive initiative about minimum wage going forward could be telling for future rate increases elsewhere.

Also, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, the presumptive president-elect, has voiced support for increasing the federal minimum wage.

Conclusion

Coupled with COVID-19 paid leave concerns, large employers have to be on their toes when it comes other aspects of employment law.

While the bulk of jurisdictions change minimum wage rates at the start or middle of the year, come increase rates at other times of the year. For example, minimum wage in Rhode Island went up on Oct. 1 this year. Florida will be another jurisdiction on an odd schedule, adding complexity for multi-jurisdiction employers.

Florida employers should make plans now, and down the road, as the new minimum wage increases take effect.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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