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March 31, 2020

Ask the Experts

Getting Started

| 4/22/2019

I’m getting ready to hire staff for the first time, and I want to be sure that I comply with the laws pertaining to new hires. What forms do I need to fill out and what should I do first?


Before tackling the specifics of your question, let’s look at the big picture. One of your primary responsibilities as an employer is to pay each employee properly, according to his or her individual position and responsibilities. Federal law requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage (or the state-mandated minimum wage if higher, as it is in Florida) for all hours worked, and overtime pay at one and one-half the regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. One other thing to remember: This law may apply to salaried staff as well as hourly workers depending on their specific job duties … which brings us back to your original question. Here’s a list of things you should do first:

Decide on the positions you need to fill. Set salaries and/or hourly pay rates for each, then determine who is/is not eligible for overtime. For guidelines, visit to download Fact Sheet #17A.

Create written job descriptions for every position. Spell out all job duties/responsibilities on paper and always include the phrase “other duties as assigned.” Require an employee signature on each document to protect against claims of “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that!”

Get your paperwork in order. First day on the job, new employees should complete the following forms: I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate). And within 20 days of hire, employers must complete a Florida New Hire Reporting Form at

Hire out for payroll services. Don’t burden yourself with administrative chores. Find a professional to handle the nitty-gritty details of paying your employees, filing taxes, verifying eligibility for work, etc., so you can pursue the passion that drew you to open your business in the first place. It will be money well spent.

Answer provided by Christina Brown
Consultant, Florida SBDC at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University


Labor Law: The Basics

Employment eligibility verification is just one of many state and federal laws business owners must abide by. The list below summarizes several others with websites for additional information.

Federal Labor Laws
Federal Minimum Wage Requires employers nationwide to pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and overtime pay of not less than one-and-one-half times the regular pay rate after 40 hours of work per week. (

Occupational Safety and Health Act Requires businesses to protect their workers from health and safety hazards on the job. (

The Americans with Disabilities Act Prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities; requires public accommodations and commercial facilities to comply with specified accessibility standards. (

Family and Medical Leave Requires businesses employing 50 or more to give certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (26 weeks for qualifying military caregivers) while preserving their health benefits. (

Equal Pay Act Prohibits wage discrimination between men and women performing substantially equal work within the same workplace. (

state Labor Laws
Florida Minimum Wage Requires employers in Florida to pay a minimum wage of $8.46 per hour; for tipped employees, the minimum wage is $5.44 per hour.

Workers’ Compensation Requires employers with four or more employees (full- or part-time) to carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees; different requirements apply for construction and agriculture. (

Child Labor Workers under age 18 cannot work in certain hazardous occupations, including excavation, electrical work, roofing and mining, or around explosives, toxic or radioactive substances or dangerous equipment. Additional occupations are banned for children ages 14-15. Minors cannot work during school hours without an exemption.

Background Checks Private citizens or companies may request a state-only criminal history record check of an individual through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website for a fee of $24 per case.

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