Labor Law: What You Should Know
WHEN A BUSINESS GROWS beyond one employee, the owner must comply with labor laws.
The law applies to workers under 18. They cannot work in hazardous occupations such as firefighting, excavation, electrical work, roofing, mining, operating heavy machinery or moving vehicles, or around explosives or dangerous equipment. There are additional occupations banned for children ages 14 and 15. Minors cannot work during school hours without an exemption.
- Minors under age 16
Outside of school hours, minors 14 and 15 are allowed to work 15 hours a week when school is in session; three hours a day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on school days if school is scheduled the next day; eight hours a day between
7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on days when there isn’t school the next day. During the summer and holidays, minors ages 14 and 15 may work 40 hours a week, eight hours a day, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Minors age 16 and older
Children ages 16 and 17 may work 30 hours a week when school is in session; eight hours a day between 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. if school is scheduled the next day. When school is not scheduled the next day, minors ages 16 and 17 may work unitl their shift is done. There are no restrictions on hours during school vacations.
Florida law requires employers that are not in the construction industry and have four or more employees, either full-time or part-time, to have workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. In the construction industry, workers’ compensation coverage is required when there is one or more full-time or part-time employees. Unless exempt, corporate officers are included in the definition of “employee.”
For employers engaged in the construction industry, up to three corporate officers or three members of a limited liability company (LLC) who own at least 10% of the corporation or company may exempt themselves from carrying workers’ compensation coverage.
Agricultural employers who have more than five regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal workers (employed for at least 30 days) are required to have coverage.
New Hire Reporting
Employers are required to provide information on all newly hired and rehired full-time and part-time employees within 20 days. This mandate is to comply with the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which seeks to expedite collection of child support from parents who change jobs frequently and to locate “deadbeat” parents.
In 2004, Floridians voted for a state constitutional amendment to establish a state minimum wage that increases with inflation. Florida’s minimum wage applies to all employees covered by the federal minimum wage law. For 2007, Florida’s minimum wage is $6.67 an hour; tipped employes who meet the eligibility requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act may be paid a direct hourly wage of $3.65 an hour.
Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation, Child Labor Program
Florida New Hire Reporting Center
Florida Dept. of Financial Services, Division of Workers’ Compensation
Equal Opportunity Laws
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 adds age, disability and marital status to the protected classes.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
This law bars employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating against
individuals age 40 and older.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963
The EPA prohibits wage discrimination between men and women in substantially equal jobs within the same establishment. The law applies to virtually all employers.
- Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and ensures equal opportunity for them.
- Title I of the ADA
Prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities; applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
- Title III of the ADA
Requires that public accommodations and commercial facilities be designed to comply with accessibility standards; applies to businesses serving the public.
- Title I of the ADA
Labor Department Laws
The U.S. Department of Labor oversees many employment laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act.
- Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to most businesses involved in interstate commerce. It requires payment of the minimum wage and overtime pay of not less than one-and-one-half times the regular pay rate after 40 hours of work. It restricts employment of children under age 16 and forbids employers from hiring children under age 18 for certain dangerous jobs.
Some employees are exempt on a case-by-case basis from one or more of the major requirements — overtime pay, minimum wage and child labor restrictions. Common exemptions include commissioned sales people, drivers, farmworkers, seasonal workers and white-collar professionals. Check with the U.S. Department of Labor on exemptions.
- Family and Medical Leave Act
The law, which applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, gives certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year while preserving their health benefits during the period. Employees may take leave for the birth of a child, if they adopt a child or provide foster care, care for a seriously ill spouse, child or parent, or suffer a serious health condition. Florida does not have a separate state family and medical leave law for private employers.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
Federal law requires businesses to provide a safe workplace and, in many cases, maintain records of job-related injuries and illnesses. Employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from most requirements of the recordkeeping rule, as are industries classified as low-hazard — retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate.
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
U.S. Department of Justice: Americans with Disabilities Act
U.S. Dept. of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service